We Say, Yet I Sense

February 5, 2015

A white peony
We say, yet I sense
Faint pink

—Kyoshi Takahama

In Kyoshi’s garden in Kamakura, there were three peony trees. Two were scarlet and the third was white. He especially loved the tree of white peonies. When they were blooming, he was enchanted with them. Kyoshi thought that while the scarlet peonies had a spellbinding attractiveness, the white peonies were extremely graceful and sublime.

As he continued to admire his white peony, Kyoshi came to realize that the flowers pristine loveliness was heightened by the faintest tinge of pink. This roseate shading served to enhance the white blossoms innate charm and grace.

There is a beautiful rhythm in this haiku. It starts with six syllables which give the poem a soft tone. These syllables are followed by the slow and elegant seven hiragana which seem to echo the swaying petals of the peony. The subtle tenor of the last five syllables then offers us an image of faint but bewitching pink in the heart of the white flower. 

(From Kyoshi Takahama’s haiku poetry collection ‘One Hundred Haiku of Kyoshi’ selected by Inahata Teiko and translated by Nagayama Aya on kyoshi.or.jp)