The Snow Party

by Derek Mahon



Bashō, coming

To the city of Nagoya,

Is asked to a snow party.


There is a tinkling of china

And tea into china;

There are introductions.


Then everyone

Crowds to the window

To watch the falling snow.


Snow is falling on Nagoya

And farther south

On the tiles of Kyoto.


Eastward, beyond Irago,

It is falling

Like leaves on the cold sea.


Elsewhere they are burning

Witches and heretics

In the boiling squares,


Thousands have died since dawn

In the service

Of barbarous kings;


But there is silence

In the houses of Nagoya

And the hills of Ise.



From The Snow Party, Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 1975.       +