FADED VIOLETS

Sono-jo — another female writer of hokku — wrote:

Isogashi ya   sumire wo tsumeba   tsukuzuku shi
Busy       ya violets wo picking    thoroughly

So occupied —
Absorbed in picking
violets.

Sometimes one becomes so absorbed in an “absorbing” action that the “thinking” self fades from view, and is seen only in retrospect.

But however delicate and pleasant violets are in appearance and fragrance, there comes a time when we realize their brief existence, their impermanence, like that of all things, as again Sono-jo wrote:

Hana-gami no    aida ni shioruru   sumire kana
Flower-paper ‘s between at   dried  violets kana

Inside
The paper handkerchief —
Faded violets.

It is a delicate hokku — a woman’s hokku — and somehow is more satisfying than Bashō’s

Yama-ji kite   naniyara yukashi    sumire gusa
Mountain-path coming   something lovely  violet-plant

Something lovely
Beside the mountain path —
A clump of violets.

It is not as good because it presents us with too wide a setting for the little violet plant, which gets lost in the vast scenery; but Sono-jo’s verse is looking right at the withered violets, which need not compete with anything else for our attention.

David



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