Oriori no Uta : Poems for All Seasons

The flowers have gone back
to their roots, the birds
to their old nests
Who knows where spring
is gone to rest?

Sutoku In

Senzaishū, Book II, Spring 1. Very few Japanese emperors have had as tragic a life as Sutoku. A shadow was cast even over the circumstances of his birth, and it is said that that was why his father, Emperor Toba, shunned him. He played a leading role in the Hōgen War, and as a result was exiled to the island of Sanuki, where he died. But Sutoku was also one of the very best poets among all the emperors, and his poems express emotion eloquently. This poem is about late spring. The flowers have scattered and returned to their roots, and the birds have returned to their old nests; only spring is untraceable ――no one knows where it is staying now, or to where is has returned.

(Hana)(wa)(ne)(ni)(tori)(wa)古巣(furusu)(ni)帰る(kaeru)なり(nari) (Haru)(no)とまり(tomari)(wo)知る(shiru)(hito)(zo)なき(naki)

崇徳院(すとくいん)

『千載集』巻二春下。歴代天皇の中でも崇徳院ほどに悲運だった帝王も少なかろう。出生自体にすでに暗い影があり、そのため父鳥羽天皇にうとんじられたという。保元の乱の主役となり、最後は讃岐に配流、そこで崩じた。しかし崇徳院は歴代天皇の中でも抜きんでた歌人の一人で、心情のよく流露する歌を作った人。この歌は晩春を詠む。花は散って根に帰り、鳥は古巣に戻るが、ひとり春だけはどこに宿るのか、帰りゆく先を知る者もない。