Entry: SPRING DEPARTS Monday, June 04, 2007

Edward Fitzgerald composed a verse -- a quatrain -- based on one by the Persian poet Omar Khayyam:

Alas, that Spring should vanish with the Rose!

That Youth's sweet-scented Manuscript should close!

The Nightingale that in the Branches sang,

Ah, whence, and whither flown again, who knows!

That is Persian poetry -- all roses and nightingales, cypresses and the moon. This verse has more the atmosphere of waka than hokku, but it expresses well the passing of youth and time through the ending of spring.

Shiki has a similar verse, but not at all fragrant -- just matter-of fact, and without the metaphors of Fitzgerald:

The canary escaped;

This day of spring

Has ended.

But Issa's verse has more of the simple sensation of hokku:

Rustling, rustling,

Spring is leaving;

The grasses in the field.

Spring is leaving. The roses are dropping their petals, and the first canterbury bells are withering on the stalk. The heat of summer is beginning. One more spring has passed in our lives.


Copyright 2007
David Coomler


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