Sunday, December 18, 2011

Thirty-Three



きのとものり

ひさかたの
ひかりのどけき
はるのひに

しづごころなく
はなのちるらん



33

Ki no Tomonori

In the cheerful light
Of the glowing sun
In spring,

Why with such haste
Falls the cherry's bloom?





33

Bloom on our cherry
seems but to last
a day. We then think

spring is swift —
but what season 
for us now

is not swift?



Notes

Risa here invokes the sense the elders (and she is one) have of time passing more quickly as we age. She and her beloved barely catch the cherries blooming any more. They come and are gone.

Ki no Tomonori, court poet, was active in the 800s C.E. and both a Poetry Immortal and an anthologist. His poem appears to highlight the yearning we have for sunshine and cheerfulness by suggesting that the cherry blossoms have an insufficient appreciation for these things, in turning from them to fall to earth so soon.

Hokusai's Old Nurse sees the blossoms scattering over a boat being re-sealed for a summer's work. The men are intent on their business; they, too, it seems, under-appreciate spring.


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