Haiku by Buson

An evening orchid,
Hidden in its scent,
The flower’s whiteness
[1]

夜の蘭香にかくれてや花白し
yoru no ran ka ni kakurete ya hana shiroshi

12 1/4″ W x 43″ H Japanese Scroll
by Master Japanese Calligrapher Eri Takase

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H3025 Haiku by Buson – An evening orchid …
by Master Japanese Calligrapher Eri Takase

An evening orchid,
Hidden in its scent,
The flower’s whiteness
[1]

yoru no ran
ka ni kakurete ya
hana shiroshi
夜の蘭
香にかくれてや
花白し
buson 蕪村

Whenever I read this poem I recall an experience we had when we unknowingly purchased such an orchid. We marveled at the beautiful white flowers which stay in bloom for months. After several days though there was this strong fragrance in the evening that took over the room! After much discussion (and much sniffing) we found the source to be the orchid. Since then we talked little of the white flowers, but often of the fragrance. As Buson suggests, the white flowers became hidden in the scent.

R. H. Blyth writes, “As it grew darker, nothing could be seen of the stem and the leaves, but the fragrance was stronger than ever, and the orchid hid in its own perfume, the white flower alone faintly seen, palely gleaming through the darkness.” [2]

R. H. Blyth suggests the translation:

An evening orchid, –
It hid its scent,
The flower white.
[2]

Nelson and Saito suggest the translation:

Orchids in the night
In their fragrance hidden –
The flowers white.
[3]

Stephen Addiss suggest the translation:

Evening orchid-
the white of its flower
hidden in its scent
[4]

Calligraphy Notes:

1) I have used a mix of hiragana and kanji to vary the look of the designs. As an example all designs use (yoru) in kanji except VD6A which uses the hiragana よる. The meaning remains the same.

Translation Notes:

夜の蘭
香にかくれてや
花白し

1) (yoru) meaning “night; evening”.

2) (ran) meaning “orchid”.

3) (ka) meaning “aroma; fragrance; scent; smell”.

4) かくれて (kakurete) from the verb 隠れる (kakureru) meaning “to hide; to be hidden; to conceal oneself; to disappear”.

5) (hana) meaning “flower; blossom; bloom; petal”.

6) 白し (shiroshi) from 白い (shiroi) meaning “white”.

References:

[1] Translation by Timothy L. Jackowski, Takase Studios, LLC.

[2] 1103.

[3] 116.

[4] x.