That Old Tree

On a winter day in the year 934 of the Common Era, Ki no Tsurayuki — the governor of Tosa province in Japan, and a renowned poet — walked among the trees with the Emperor Suzaku. The emperor asked Tsurayuki to compose a poem.

Tsurayuki picked up a fallen branch — little more than a twig — and wrote this in the snow:

Buried in Winter,
How unexpected it is
Between the trees
To imagine flowers
In the fallen snow.

Tsurayuki stuck the branch in the snow beside the poem. Both poem and branch remained there until a new snowfall covered them up.

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