A Small Token: Poem Number 15

July 28, 2012

Wild flowers - geograph.org.uk - 479662

Some people give cards, some people give poems:

君がため Kimi ga tame
春の野に出でて Haru no no ni idete
若菜つむ Wakana tsumu
わが衣手に Waga koromode ni
雪はふりつつ Yuki wa furitsutsu

Which Professor Mostow translates as:

For my lord’s sake
I went out into the fields of spring
to pick young greens
while on my robe-sleeves
the snow kept falling and falling.

The poem was composed by a young Emperor Kōkō (830 – 887) who picked some wild flowers and herbs and sent them to someone as a New Year’s greeting. The poem was included in the offering. Young greens were often eaten after the New Year, and the tradition still continues in Japan as the Nanakusa holiday on January 7th.

Being early in the year, that helps explains too why snow was falling on the young prince’s sleeves. New Year’s in Japan used to follow the lunar calendar, so it would often fall in late winter, early spring and is thus often written traditionally as geishun (迎春) too.

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