A Spring Poem

Verse from an 11th-century Japanese emperor

The lingering hours of the dark are passing,
And in the fire of incense Spring is born,
For in the dawn it is burning in a censer.
I know that the Spring is near
For the Spring mist spreads her heavenly sleeves,
And the range of the Yoshino Mountains is dim,
Though still they are white with snow.
The Spring, stealing along the boughs,
Makes the eyes of the willow tree blue.
The Spring sends first the mild winds as her herald,
And the singing birds follow to preach her doctrine.
The blossoms of the southern boughs
Differ in their season of bloom
From those of the northern boughs.
The shadowy haze and the languor of the snake-root
Make the soul of man peaceful.
Under the blue and shining sky the cold reeds are thin.
The breeze strokes the young hair of the willow,
And the warm ripples that melt the ice
Wash the dry curls of the moss.
The Spring is coming—is coming!
The snake-root is budding on the rocks
Where the water of Spring is dripping.
The first flower of Spring is the white foam of water
That rushes forth when the ice melts beneath the mountain wind.

See the high range of Hira, where the ancient snow has vanished,
And the fields prepare for our snake-root harvest!