Oriori no Uta : Poems for All Seasons

Bit by bit a narrow path was formed beneath
the apple orchard’s trees and when you asked
whose first steps does that remember
your question was my treasure

Shimazaki Tōson

From Wakanashū, 1987. The last stanza of Hatsukoi, “First Love,” which is four stanzas of four lines each. Tōson, a Meiji poet of new-style verse, wrote, with some exaggeration, of how he and his first love had so many meetings in the orchard that their goings and comings had worn a little path whose origin was known only to them. The poem seems rather affected now but when it was written young people were thrilled by its modernity, including the theme of young lovers meeting in an apple orchard. The first stanza was: “You’d just begun to wear your hair up / when I saw you beneath the apples / You seemed as much a flower / as the flowers of the comb you wore in your hair” (Mada agesomeshi maegami no / ringo no moto ni mieshi toki / mae ni sashitaru hanagushi no / hana aru kimi to omoikeri).