Classic and Contemporary Buddhist Works

The Wisdom Blog: Classic & Contemporary Buddhism

Monday Mindful Morsel: Awesome Nightfall

by Lydia Anderson
April 14, 2014
Mon, 04/14/2014 - 10:33 -- landerson

This week's morsel comes from Awesome Nightfall: The Life, Times, and Poetry of Saigyō. Awesome Nightfall captures the power of Saigyōs poetry and this previously overlooked poets keen insight into the social and political world of medieval Japan. It also offers a fascinating look into the world of Japanese Buddhism prior to the wholesale influence of Zen. In honor of spring's approach, we've gathered poems on the season.

Celebrating spring at each house:

kado goto ni
tatsuru komatsu ni
kazasarete
yado ch
ō yado ni
haru wa kinikeri

Gate after gate
adorned with festal pine:
spring has come
to each and every house,
garnishing all with new green.

haru shire to
tani no hosomizu
mori zo kuru
iwama no k
ōri
hima taenikeri

Waking me up
to the spring that’s come,
water trickles down
the valley, and long crag-bound ice
now cracks open, slides free.

On seeing an ancient cherry tree with blossoms here and there:

wakite min
oigi wa hana mo
aware nari
ima ikutabi ka
haru ni aubeki

I must strain to see
the few buds this old tree
labored to open;
in pathos we’re one, and I wonder
how many more springs we’ll meet here.

Having withdrawn from the world, I was on the Eastern Hills and, at someone’s invitation, went to see blossoms at Shirakawa; but I soon left, reflecting on the past with these words:

chiru o mide
kaeru kokoro ya
sakurabana
mukashi ni kawaru
shirushi naruran

This frame of mind
lets me go back, even without
seeing the blossoms fall;
maybe it’s some sign I am
no more the one I used to be.

ko no moto ni
tabine o sureba
yoshino-yama
hana no fusuma o
kisuru harukaze

Tired from travel,
I’m falling asleep under
a tree at Yoshino
while a spring breeze gathers
and pulls over me a quilt of petals.

To read more from Awesome Nightfall, click here.

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