Oriori no Uta : Poems for All Seasons

One plum blossom―
one blossom’s worth
of warmth

Hattori Ransetsu

From Genpōshū, the collection of Ransetsu’s poems compiled after his death. This is a famous haiku. But the usual interpretation―that with each newly-blossomed plum flower, the warmth of spring increases―somehow does not fit. In Genpōshū, it is in the spring section, but the title note says “Cold weather plum” (kanbai), which means it is about late winter. The poem breaks, then, after “One plum blossom.” Only one plum flower has blossomed, still only one―but you feel the warmth of that flower, early herald of spring, almost more than if there were many.

 

(Ume)一輪(ichirin)
一りん(ichirin)ほど(hodo)(no)
あたゝかさ(atatakasa)

服部嵐雪(はっとりらんせつ)

『玄峰集』所収。有名な句である。ただ、梅が一輪咲くごとに春の暖かさが増してくるとの通解はどうも当たっていないらしい。後人の編んだ嵐雪句集『玄峰集』では春の部に入るが、元来「寒梅」と前書きがあり、すると晩冬の句ということになる。つまり「梅一輪」で一旦切れる形で、梅が一輪だけ咲いた、まだ一輪だけだが、もうその一輪だけの暖かさは感じさせてくれる、あわれさすがに、という気分の句。