Cherry Blossoms in Unexpected Places: Poem Number 66

April 8, 2012

Cherry Blossoms

Now that Spring is finally here, and cherry blossoms are blooming in Japan, I thought this poem was especially fitting:

もろともに Morotomo ni
哀れと思へ Aware to omoe
山桜 Yama-zakura
花より外に Hana yori hoka ni
知る人もなし Shiru hito mo nashi

Which Professor Mostow translates as:

Let us think of each
other fondly,
O mountain cherries!
For, outside of your blossoms,
there’s no one who knows my feelings.

The poem was composed by Major Archbishop Gyōson (1055-1135), who according to Mostow, was a famed yamabushi or mountain ascetic, and a very prolific author in his day.

As Mostow explains, the poem itself is fairly straightforward, but the poem’s headnote has confused many scholars over time, stating that it was composed “when he saw cherry blossoms unexpectedly at Ōmine.” Was it the time of year, or the location that made it so unexpected? No one really knows for sure.

But, the joy of seeing cherry blossoms at this time of year is hard to deny. 🙂

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