Battle of the Love Poems, part 2: Poem Number 41

Photo by Polina Kovaleva on

In our last episode, we talked about a famous poetry contest in 960 which pitted two excellent poems against one another. Poem 40 by Taira no Kanemori was judged the winner, but this poem on the same theme was the loser though only just barely:

恋すてふKoisu chōMy name already
我が名はまだきWaga na wa madakiis bandied about with
立ちにけりTachi ni kerirumors I’m in love—
人しれずこそHito shirezu kosothough, unknown to anyone, I thought,
思ひそめしかOmoi someshi kaI had only just begun to love her!
Translation by Dr Joshua Mostow

Mibu no Tadami, the author, was said to be so distraught over losing the contest that he wasted away and died, though this story may not have actually happened. Mostow points out in his book that additional poems by the author suggest that he was alive and well for many years to come.

Mostow also points out that even though the poem won 2nd place, it has been highly prized throughout the ages, just as poem 40 has been.

One response to “Battle of the Love Poems, part 2: Poem Number 41”

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