These are poems about roses, and what they say and don't say to us ...
Roses for a Lover, Idealized
by Michael R. Burch
When you have become to me
as roses bloom, in memory,
exquisite, each sharp thorn forgot,
will I recall—yours made me bleed?
When winter makes me think of you—
whorls petrified in frozen dew,
bright promises blithe spring forsook,
will I recall your words—barbed, cruel?
These are my modern English translations of poems by Ono no Komachi.
Watching wan moonlight flooding tree limbs,
my heart also brims,
overflowing with autumn.
—Ono no Komachi (circa 825-900), loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch
These are poems about about rain, storms, ice, snow, sleet and other forms of weather. Some of the poems are translations of the fabulous Japanese poet Ono no Komachi.
pregnant with heavy thunder ...
the water breaks
—Michael R. Burch
Memory of you is . . . a blue spear of flower.
I cannot remember the name of it.
Alongside a bold dripping poppy is fire and silk.
And they cover you.
A humble wild-rose, pink and slender,
Was plucked and placed in a bright bouquet,
Beside a Jacqueminot’s royal splendour,
And both in my lady’s boudoir lay.
Said the haughty bud, in a tone of scorning,
‘I wonder why you are called a rose?
Your leaves will fade in a single morning;
No blood of mine in your pale cheek glows.
‘Your course green stalk shows dust of the highway,
You have no depths of fragrant bloom;
And what could you learn in a rustic byway
To fit you to lie in my lady’s room?
Tz'u No. 12
To the tune of "Happy Event Is Nigh"
The wind ceases; fallen flowers pile high.
Outside my screen, petals collect in heaps of red
This reminds me that after the blooming
of the cherry-apple tree
It is time to lament the dying spring.
Singing and drinking have come to an end;
jade cups are empty;
Lamps are flickering.
Hardly able to bear the sorrows and regrets
of my dreams,
I hear the mournful cry of the cuckoo.
Tz'u No. 11
To the tune of "Lamentation"
It was far into the night when, intoxicated,
I took off my ornaments;
The plum flower withered in my hair.
Recovered from tipsiness,
the lingering smell of wine
broke my fond dream
before my dreaming soul could find
my way home.
All is quiet.
The moon lingers,
And the emerald screen hangs low.
I caress the withered flower,
Fondle the fragrant petals,
Trying to bring back the lost time.
Tz'u No. 10 Exile
To the tune of "Bodhisattva Aliens"
Soft breezes, mild sunshine,
spring is still young.
The sudden change of the light
brightened my spirit.
But upon awakening from slumber,
I felt the chill air;
The plum flower withered in my hair.
Where can I call my native land?
Forget - I cannot, except in wine
when I drown my care.
Incense was lighted when I went to sleep;
Though the embers are now cold,
the warmth of wine still burns on.
Tz'u No. 1
To the tune "Courtyard Filled with Fragrance"
Fragrant grass beside the pond
green shade over the hall
a clear cold comes through
the window curtains
crescent moon beyond the golden bars
and a flute sounds
as if someone were coming
but alone on my mat with a cup
gazing sadly into nothingness
I want to call back
the blackberry flowers
that have fallen
though pear blossoms remain
for in that distant year
I came to love their fresh fragrance
scenting my sleeve
Two Tramps in Mud Time
Out of the mud two strangers came
And caught me splitting wood in the yard,
And one of them put me off my aim
By hailing cheerily "Hit them hard!"
I knew pretty well why he had dropped behind
And let the other go on a way.
I knew pretty well what he had in mind:
He wanted to take my job for pay.
Good blocks of oak it was I split,
As large around as the chopping block;
And every piece I squarely hit
Fell splinterless as a cloven rock.
The blows that a life of self-control