Sunday, April 03, 2005

Cherry Blossom Death - a Japanese Death Poem

The Cherry Blossom festival in Washington, D.C. takes place this weekend, and the peak bloom is projected for April 7 - 9. Unless cold weather delays the peak, the blossoms will be sparse when the full moon comes on April 21st. The sidewalks and lawns will be decorated with wilting pink petals, and will scatter and blow away with the tourists.

Saigyo, a Buddhist monk and warrior who influenced Basho's writing, died in 1190. He wrote his death poem, which "presents a scene during the second lunar month, when cherry trees blossom and memorial services for the Buddha's death are held:"

Negawaka wa
hana no shita nite
hary shinamu
sono kisaragi no
mochizuki no koro

Translated into English:

I wish to die
in spring, beneath
the cherry blossoms,
while the springtime moon
is full.

Poem and quote taken from Japanese Death Poems: Written by Zen Monks and Haiku Poets on the Verge of Death, by Yoel Hoffman

1 comment:

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