Oriori no Uta : Poems for All Seasons

Emptied of prayers

for the life to come

or even for this one

my heart is filled

with the falling cherry blossoms

Yamakawa Tomiko

From Yamakawa Tomiko Zenshū, Vol. 1, 1972. One of 14 tanka titled “Hikagegusa(Evergreen Vine)”, which appered in the May, 1908 issu of Mōjō (Morning Star). These were the last poems Tomiko published in her lifetime, a year before her death from tuberculosis at her age of 29. In them she was already imagining her own body dead and buried. In the heart of one resigned not only to the end of hope for the next life but even for this one, phantom cherry blossoms still scatter. Among the many tanka on cherry blossoms from ancient times, such a beautiful crysrallization of a tragic emotion must be very rare.


gose wa nao


konjo dani mo negawazaru


waga hutokoro ni sakura kite chiru