Scatter these blossoms

Winter's over, and for a few brief weeks, the fruit trees - cherries, peaches, apples, apricots - are in furious bloom. They're gorgeous, and everywhere, but they don't last. No-one knows this better than Japan's poets, for whom the cherry blossom has long been a symbol of evanescence. “It is just because / they scatter without a trace,” says one ancient anonymous fragment, “that cherry blossoms / delight us so, for in this world / lingering means ugliness.” The eighth century poet Takahashi Mushimaro wrote mostly about local folk tales, and about Mount Fuji and Mount Tsukuha. This poem (roughly 1280 years old this spring) was composed when one of his noble patrons, Lord Fujiwara no Umakai, was sent to be Commander of the Western Sea Circuit - hence the reference to ‘my lords return.’ Charging a god to keep the blossoms on the trees an extra week is the kind of effrontery of which only poets, God bless them, are capable. But the sentiment's in all of us I'm sure when the cherry trees flower. 

Where white clouds rise
Above soaring Tatsuta
And the mountain torrent
Plummets down Ogura’s peak,
Blossoming cherries
Burgeon in great swirls of bloom;
But the mountain is high
And the wind is never still,
And the spring rain
Goes on falling day by day,
So that by now the petals
Have scattered from the upper branches.
O blossoms remaining
On the branches down below,
For a little while
Do no scatter so wildly,
Until my lords return
From the journey where they go,
Grass for their pillow.

This journey of mine
Will not last beyond seven days:
God of Tatsuta,
I charge you, do not let the wind
Scatter these blossoms to the ground.

Ten thousand things are growing in the radiance

Today is the first day of Spring (at least in the southern hemisphere - what's the deal with the northern hemisphere??), and it deserves some literary eclat. There are some well-loved lines about Spring, though fewer than for Autumn, as I noted here.  In Canberra, the cherry trees are blossoming in earnest and a lot of the big bare trees are covered in tiny buds. So here are Blake and Wordsworth, to represent the orthodox tradition. 

William Blake "To Spring", 1793

O thou with dewy locks, who lookest down
Through the clear windows of the morning, turn
Thine angel eyes upon our western isle,
Which in full choir hails thy approach, O Spring!

The hills tell one another, and the listening
Valleys hear; all our longing eyes are turn’d
Up to thy bright pavilions: issue forth
And let thy holy feet visit our clime!

Come o’er the eastern hills, and let our winds
Kiss thy perfumèd garments; let us taste
Thy morn and evening breath; scatter thy pearls
Upon our lovesick land that mourns for thee.

O deck her forth with thy fair fingers; pour
Thy soft kisses on her bosom; and put
Thy golden crown upon her languish’d head,
Whose modest tresses are bound up for thee.

William Wordsworth "Lines Written in early spring", 1798  

I heard a thousand blended notes,
While in a grove I sate reclined,
In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts
Bring sad thoughts to the mind.

To her fair works did Nature link
The human soul that through me ran;
And much it grieved my heart to think
What man has made of man.

Through primrose tufts, in that green bower,
The periwinkle trailed its wreaths;
And ’tis my faith that every flower
Enjoys the air it breathes.

The birds around me hopped and played,
Their thoughts I cannot measure:--
But the least motion which they made
It seemed a thrill of pleasure.

The budding twigs spread out their fan,
To catch the breezy air;
And I must think, do all I can,
That there was pleasure there.

If this belief from heaven be sent,
If such be Nature’s holy plan,
Have I not reason to lament
What man has made of man?

I also like these lines (loosely translated) from a Han dynasty Fu - somehow more outdoorsy than Blake or Wordsworth ever sound:

Sunflowers in the field are purest green,
The morning dew awaits the sun to dry it.
The warm spring spreads round its favours,
Ten thousand things are growing in the radiance.