Scent of plum blossoms | Otagaki Rengetsu


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Otagaki Rengetsu | Poem sheet

References to the ume, a term that is commonly translated into English as plum but in fact refers to an apricot, occur in Japanese documents as early as the eighth century. Likely introduced from China in the Nara period, the plum was initially the flower most frequently mentioned in Japanese poetry, and was celebrated for its sweet perfume, delicate blossoms, and habit of blooming at the end of winter. (Merrily Baird: Symbols of Japan, p. 64.)

In the scent of plum blossoms
they do not even rest…
in the deepening night sky
crying and winging away
the wild geese of spring.

Otagaki Rengetsu (1791-1875)




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