Boke (Quince)

 

By LINDA INOKI

 

She will let through
The fence of quince bushes,
Him who gives her the pains of love.

IN BLOOM

 

By Matsuo Basho (1644-94) translated by R.H. Blyth
in “Haiku” (Hokuseido Press)

The quince bush is an excellent image of the painful pleasures of love, for although it bursts with tender red blooms, it is also armed with vicious thorns. Both the wild species, called kusa-boke, as well as old cultivated varieties, known as boke, are grown for their attractive spring flowers, which hasten to open before the leaves. Flower colors range from scarlet to coral, and one lovely type bears white flowers flushed with pink. Some varieties are not long-lived, but even young specimens can produce small, fragrant apple-like fruits, which make pleasant preserves. British gardeners have long called these popular shrubs “japonicas” from the official name of the kusa-boke, which is

Chaenomeles japonica.

 

The Japan Times: Jan. 24, 2002

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