Haiku by Buson

Plum blossoms everywhere,
I should go south,
I should go north
[1]

梅遠近南すべく北すべく
ume ochikochi minami subeku kita subeku

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

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H3005 – Haiku by Buson – Plum blossoms everywhere …
by Master Japanese Calligrapher Eri Takase

Plum blossoms everywhere,
I should go south,
I should go north
[1]

ume ochikochi
minami subeku
kita subeku
梅遠近
南すべく
北すべく
buson 蕪村

Imagine it is towards the end of winter and the plum blossoms are just starting to bloom in your area. They bloom at different times starting in the south and moving north. So do you go south to see the plum blossoms in full bloom? Or do you go north to see the new blooms? … This poem so beautifully captures the “dilemma” when all options are good.

One also sees the pronunciation minnami which would make the second line seven syllables.

R. H. Blyth suggests the following translation:

Plum-blossoms here and there,
It is good to go north.
Good to go south.
[2]

Blyth writes:

There is here a feeling of the newness of spring, and yet of the luxury, the bounty, the universality of the seasons; in truth, anywhere will do in these days of renewed life and beauty. [2]

References:

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

[2] 984.