Katharine Gray, commended (18-and-under)

First Love

Original Japanese to be supplied

Shimazaki Toson
First Love

For the first time you had pushed the hair from your face;
I saw you standing beneath the green apple tree.
You wore a comb with flowers holding back your hair
And I thought that your beauty surpassed those flowers.

You gently outstretched your hand, so white and so soft,
And gave to me an apple which was ripening.
It was beneath those branches of red autumn fruit
That I was first to become a person in love.

I had not been aware of the sigh I released
It floated its airy path into your dark hair.
The taste of this tenderness was like fine saké.
I tasted a sip of love there, because of you.

Leading to the apple tree in the fruit orchard
In the grass lies a small path, naturally made.
That path is a memory – who made it, you asked.
The question you posed made me love you all the more.

Translated from the Japanese by Katharine Gray
  [Commentary on the poem by the translator]   

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