The Master-Singers of Japan, by Clara A. Walsh, , at sacred-texts.com
The Tatsuta's clear waters redly flow
This placid eventide, whereby I know
On the high hills the maples flame afar,
And down the stream, a floating fiery star,
Drifts the red leaf in splendour. Yet alas!
To see the glory of the Autumn pass!
Who could have cut this fair chrysanthemum,
Regardless of its beauty as it grew
In nature's harmony of leaf and stem?
One who perchance has plucked it ere its prime,
Mistakenly, to save it from chill winds,
Or lest it perish in the heavy dew.
In my black hair white threads begin to stray,
Gleam in the winter sunlight. Now I gaze
On the year's earliest snow with vague dismay
Soon shall I see the winter of my days.
It grieves me, on this Life to contemplate,
This Life that seems but as a summer cloud
In a vast sky—floats up, and drifts away,
Knowing no whence nor whither!
I say not that this Life is pitiful,
Or that unending woe is mortals’ lot,
For Life is but a mirage of the mind,
And who can say if it exist or not?
Who in the wild hills strays,
These late October days,
A gift receives
Upon his shoulders laid—
A cloak of rich brocade
(Yet all unwoven)
Of the maple leaves.
At the tree's foot, with gorgeous colours fraught,
The scarlet maple leaves rest as they fell.
Where is the Autumn in whose hand was brought
That splendid foliage? Rests she here as well
Under the mantle she herself has wrought?
My garden's fairest scenes, from now will show,
Susuki-grass-plumes, graceful bending low,
Under their burden of fresh-fallen snow!
Flowering Susuki's many sleeves invite
In this fair field a lingering stay,
But coldly turns the Autumn from their sight,
And leaves the scene to Winter grey.
Bright gleam the buds a-shine against the blue,
While from green woods trills many a joyous voice.
All hearts are gladsome: must it not be true,
That "when the happy laugh the gods rejoice"?
Many the paths that twist and wind
Through stream-cleft vale or forest maze;
But those who reach the hill-top find
(Though they have climbed by different ways)
On the wide summit, clear and kind,
Just the same moonlight softly plays,
Shining on all with equal rays!
At the brief home-returning of the dead,
Bright is the air with flashing dragon-flies,
Like gossamers at sunset shining red;
The spirits’ burnished steeds flit through the skies,
Each to its bourne, by viewless riders sped!
Note.—During the three days’ festival of the dead—"Bon" (the Spirits of departed ancestors) are believed to be carried by dragonflies to their old homes.
As Autumn closes in, and fitful blows
The dreary wind, that passes moaning by,
My heart, already sorrow-laden, grows
Sadder to hear the wild geese pensive cry—
Leave me hereafter to my sad repose,
O kindly birds of passage! Come not nigh!
Fair goddess of the paling Autumn skies,
Fain would I know how many looms she plies,
Wherein through skilful tapestry she weaves
Her fine brocade of fiery maple leaves—
Since on each hill, with every gust that blows,
In varied hues her vast embroidery glows?
Fronting the kindly Jizō's shrine
The cherry-blooms are blowing now,
Pink cloud of flower on slender bough,
And hidden tracery of line.
Rose-dawn against moss-mellowed grey,
Through which the wind-tost sprays allow
Glimpse of calm smile and placid brow,
Of carven face where sunbeams play.
Dawn-time, I pluck a branch, and swift
Flutters a flight of petals fair;
Through the fresh-scented morning air
Down to the waving grass they drift.
Noon-tide my idle fingers stray,
Through the fair maze of bud and flower,
Sending a sudden blossom-shower
From the sweet fragrance-haunted spray.
Low in the west the red fire dies,
Vaguely I lift my hand, but now
Jizō is not—nor cherry bough—
Only the dark of starless skies!
If I should pluck this fair flower blossoming,
I might defile its beauty with my hand,
So let it stay, ungathered where it grows.
I offer its unsullied loveliness
To Buddhas past, and present, and to come
By Shōni no Myōfu
Here, sheltered by the hill,
Lonely wild cherry still
I find in bloom.
Let not the wild wind know!
Or it will surely blow
And scatter this last trace
Of passing Spring!
By Fujiwara Tada-Kuni
I thought that tears, the gems of Sorrow's crown,
Were human only, yet I see each blade
Of slender grass with shining drops weighed down,
White dewdrop tears, that glimmer in the shade;
Even the grass would seem all passion-filled,
As my own heart, with grief not to be stilled!
By Kawara no Sadaijin
I'll gather dewdrops from the cherry-trees,
And bathe me in their perfume through and through, p. 87
Ere yet there comes the rough and envious breeze
To carry off both flowers and fragrance too!