Arakida Moritake, “The fallen blossom”

Thanks to Catherine Rogers & Bethany Pedersen for their insights

“The fallen blossom”
Arakida Moritake

The fallen blossom,
rising back up to its branch,
is a butterfly.

Comment:

A full growth reaches full growth again. But it had fallen – died. How could the dead flower be equated with the one growing/grown? One could suspend time, but then “fallen” and “rising back” drop out of the poem, useless.

The real issue is flight. Blossom – branch – butterfly. We could consider growth as a natural process: is it a form of flight? Decayed flowers help yield new trees, new flowers – not flight. Growth alone does not account for transformation. Transformation, the more general concept, may account for the radical equation of death and life. But it does so strangely. The object first considered is now a different object entirely.

Human reason may work this way. Set a class for an object – “blossom” – and now you can point at living and dead blossoms and call them the same. This is not really reason, this classification. Closer: you set a place (“branch”) and from that observe and judge blossoms. The category allows for flight, the imaginative act that lets you see the truth of natural processes. But again, the thing considered has entirely changed.

Catherine and Bethany both reminded me of the more basic situation. Moritake’s speaker more than likely saw a blossom falling and confused it with a butterfly. Disassociation, flight, freedom, growth and change are all linked somehow.

3 Comments

  1. This is such a unique imagination of Arakida – the fallen flower petals risen up to the branches by the flowing winds and giving the illusion of a butterfly.

    I quite like your reasoning, linking it to the natural process of growth and transformation. Agreed the transformation results in a completely different object though.

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