Poem of the Week #3: Japanese Snow Poems (Ryokan)

Snow day in London on Monday – very exciting. The city was inverted – more people at play than at work, the streets silent, still and deserted, an atmosphere of friendliness and commonality between strangers, an overriding sense of peace, relaxation, and contentment that descended over London along with the blanket of snow. We even cleaned our kitchen. All things, truly, were reversed for one day.

Here are two poems from the renowned Japanese Zen monk and poet Ryokan, on the subject of winter, and the snow…

Fresh morning snow in front of the shrine.
The trees! Are they white with peach blossoms
Or white with snow?
The children and I joyfully throw snowballs


Blending with the wind,
Snow falls;
Blending with the snow,
The wind blows.
By the hearth
I stretch out my legs,
Idling my time away
Confined in this hut.
Counting the days,
I find that February, too,
Has come and gone
Like a dream.


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