A Small Token: Poem Number 15

Photo by Kristina Paukshtite on Pexels.com

Some people give cards, some people give poems:

君がためKimi ga tameFor my lord’s sake
春の野に出でてHaru no no ni ideteI went out into the fields of spring
若菜つむWakana tsumuto pick young greens
わが衣手にWaga koromode niwhile on my robe-sleeves
雪はふりつつYuki wa furitsutsuthe snow kept falling and falling.
Translation by Dr Joshua Mostow

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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