April 8, 2011

Poetry Friday--A Flower Festival

In Japan, Buddha's birthday is celebrated today, April 8. On this day the Japanese have a festival called Hana-matsuri (Flower Festival). There is a story behind it--when Buddha was born the earth was so pleased that flowers bloomed everywhere. So, on Hana-matsuri, fresh flowers are used to decorate shrines and statues of Buddha.

Here in New Hampshire, there are no flowers blooming yet, so let's celebrate with poetry instead! This delightful poem is by Linda Pastan:

The Maypole
        after Wallace Stevens

One must have a mind of spring
to regard the cherry tree burdened
with blossom;

and have been warm for days
to behold the boughs of the redbud
prickly with color in the glint

of the April sun; and not to think
of any cruelty in the difficult birthing
of so many leaves, to feel only pure

elation at the sound of the undulant breeze
which is the sound of every garden
with a breeze blowing among its flowers,

the sound the listener hears, watching the buds
which were not quite here a week ago
pushing up from oblivion now.

from Traveling Light: Poems (W.W. Norton, 2011)
This week's Poetry Friday Round-Up is being held at Madigan Reads, and, next week it will be held right here! See you back here in a week!

Also, I'm taking part in Jama Rattigan's Alphabet Soup Poetry Potluck Series, celebrating National Poetry Month 2011. I hope you're following the series--there's poetry and lots and lots of food! (Thanks, Jama!)

Photo by Omer van Kloeten


  1. I love the line about the redbud. We have one in our yard and I wait all year for the two weeks of "prickly with color in the glint of the April sun."

  2. Ah, well. I am nuts for cherry blossom poems of any kind. This one is so good describing that breeze, and the buds of so many new leaves...

    Thank you!

  3. Beautiful - thank you for sharing! I'm lucky enough to have a "cherry tree burdened with blossom" outside my window right now (Georgia).

  4. I've always loved Wallace Stevens. This poem is particularly lovely.

  5. I hadn't even heard of redbuds until my friend from NC told me about them and sent a photo. They're very pink!

    I like this line: elation at the sound of the undulant breeze

  6. Two Linda Pastan poems in a row on the roundup this week! Lucky us!!

  7. I like the photo that you've paired with this.

    And I look forward to seeing what you'll be sharing next week!