Friday, January 29, 2016

Carpe Diem #906 Ume-no-hana (ume flower)

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

January is running towards its end. We have only two episodes to go and than ... classic meets modern will be over. I hope you all did like this month ...

Today our prompt is Ume-no-hana (ume flower) and it's a classical kigo for the end of winter, or the last part of winter. Ume-no-hana (ume flower) is mostly translated as "plum" but it's more an "apricot".

I have a little background about the "ume-flower" for you:

Next to the Cherry blossom, the plum blossoms are loved by Japanese poets and where enjoyed even more than the cherry in the Heian peroid.

They are a symbol of refinement, purity and nobility and also a reminder of past love. Japanese tradition holds that the ume functions as a protective charm against evil, so the ume is traditionally planted in the northeast of the garden, the direction from which evil is believed to come.

I have found a lot of beautiful haiku and tanka (waka) about/on plum blossoms. First a tanka (waka) written by Sugawara Michizane:

When the east wind blows,
Send me your perfume,
Blossoms of
the plum:
Though your lord be absent,
Forget not the spring.

© Sugawara Michizane (845 – 903) (Tr. G. Bownas A. Thwaite)

Really a wonderful tanka (waka). This tanka I read for the very first time several years ago on the wall of one of the buildings of the Hortus Botanicus in Leiden (The Netherlands).

Here are a few haiku about/on Ume (plum) blossoms:

even the heavenly gods
crowd' round
plum blossoms

© Kobayashi Issa (Tr. David Lanoue)

ume ichi-rin ichirin hodo no atatakasa

one plum blossom
brings us just one more
step to the warmth

© Hattori Ransetsu (1654-1707) (Tr: Gabi Greve)

Credits: shira ume ni akuru yo bakari to nari ni keri

shira ume ni akuru yo bakari to nari ni keri

The night almost past,
through the white plum blossoms
a glimpse of dawn.

© Yosa Buson

Of course I had to find a haiku by my master Basho to honor him and I found the following haiku about/on plum blossoms:

scent of plum blossoms
on the misty mountain path
a big rising sun

© Matsuo Basho

And next to my love for Cherry blossoms I also wrote several haiku about/on Plum blossoms, here are a few haiku from my archive. These are all written at the start of Carpe Diem Haiku Kai back in 2012:

red plum blooming
while the last snow is melting -
finally Spring

the shivering cold
creeps into my old skeleton -
white plum blossoms

what a feast!
finally winter has gone
early plum blossoms

covered with snow
the fragile plum blossoms
longing for Spring

For closure:

scent of plum blossoms
mingles with the scent of the hearth
winter departure

© Chèvrefeuille

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until February 1st at noon (CET). I will (try to) publish our last episode of January 2016, meditation, later on. For now ... have fun!

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