Tag Archives: plum blossom

MYS V: 815

On the 13th day of First Month Tenpyō 2, there was a gathering at the residence of the Governor General for a banquet. That year the month was truly a perfect example of early spring, with a sublime atmosphere and gentle breezes. The plum blossom bloomed with the whiteness of the powder one applies before a mirror; the orchids gave off a scent like that trailed behind one from a perfumed sachet. Moreover, in the morning the clouds moved across the peaks, and capped the pine trees with a silken gauze. Then with the evening mists rose from the mountain caverns, and birds, lost in the silken folds, flew in confusion through the woods. In the garden, new-born butterflies danced, while in the skies, geese flew homeward. Thus, with the heavens to cover us, and the land spread out before, we sat with knees close together and the wine-cups flew back and forth. All of us together quite forgot our words, and allowed our hearts to fly free in the beautiful scene. Truly, there is no way to measure the emotions of the time, so filled with pleasure were we. Were it not for poetry, how could we record our feelings? In the poetry of Cathay, there are volumes on the fallen blossoms, but what difference is there between those ancient compositions and those of the present? And so, and so, shall we not compose short poems on this garden of blossoming plum?


mutuki tati
paru no kitaraba
kaku shi koso
mume wo manekitutu
tanosiki opeme
The First Month appears and
With the coming of spring
Beckoned by plum blossom
Will we exhaust ourselves with joy!

Senior Assistant Governor General, Lord Ki

Love V: 21

Left (Win).

kasanezu to
omou bakari zo
nioi wa sode ni
utsurinuru kana
No piled robes, but
All I do is long for her:
Her night-robe’s
Scent upon my sleeves
Does dwell….

Lord Suetsune


kozue bakari o
nasake nite
aruji wa tōki
yado no mume ga e
The scent drifting
From the treetops is my only
Consolation, for
Their master is as far away
As his dwelling’s plum blossom branches…


The Right state: the Left’s poem lacks any faults to indicate. The Left state: is the Right’s poem not composed upon the plum blossom of the house next door?

In judgement: for the topic of ‘Nearby Love’, poems composed where the lovers are in the same room are most likely winners. Even so, how close do their dwellings need to be? The Left’s latter section, ‘Her night-robe’s scent upon my sleeves’ (sayogoromo nioi wa sode ni) is certainly elegant. The Right’s poem has ‘Their master is as far away’ (aruji wa tōki). Simply because of this, it is certainly not composed on plum blossom. Still, the Left’s ‘night-robe’ (sayogoromo) seems a little superior to ‘The scent drifting from the treetops is my only consolation’ (nioikuru kozue bakari o nasake nite).


Spring 1

In the Second Month of the Fourth Year of Kenpô (1216), I selected and ordered two hundred of my own meagre works. In the Sixth Month of the following year, I took the order apart and rearranged it somewhat. In the Seventh Year of Kenpô, I secretly presented it to His Majesty, and received an Imperial judgement upon it.

Left (Tie)


kasugano ni
saku ya ume ga e
yukima yori
ima wa harube to
wakana tsumitsutsu
On Kasuga field,
O, branches of blooming plum blossom!
From the spaces in the snow,
‘Now Spring is come!’
Do we pluck fresh greens.




mata ya miyama o
wakana tsumu no mo
awayuki zo furu
Has it not gone, and yet
The mountains’ depths
Does bury?
Upon the fresh-green picking fields
A spume of snow falls on…


Sanekata Shū 280

When I was at the court of the Crown Prince during a Kōshin Rite at the beginning of the year, I composed the following with ‘the pointlessness of darkness’ as a topic:


niFoFi saFe
mume no Fana
woru ni mo ika ni
mono ukaramasi
Had they no scent
To fragrance them,
Plum blossoms
Plucked by touch alone
Would be a chore, indeed!

Ise Shū 34

When Her Majesty, the Empress, was known as the Consort who was Mother to the Crown Prince, she selected topics and ordered Ise to compose poems for a folding screen as follows:

There was a picture of a man visiting a woman and conversing with her. The man, using the pretext of plum blossom to begin a conversation with the lady, says:


misi Fito ni
mata mo ya aFu to
mume no Fana
sakisi atari ni
yukanu Fi zo naki
The maid I glimpsed,
I wonder, may I meet her more?
Plum blossom
Bloomed around about
Where the sun does ever shine.