What on earth is this all about, the butterfly seems to think, as it goes berserk over the flower offerings


nanigoto zo tamukeshi hana ni kurū chō

(Natsume Sōseki 夏目漱石)



The verb tamuku means to make an offering to gods, spirits of the deceased, etc. Here it refers to a voluminous flower offering (tamukeshi hana is literally “the flowers [I] have offered”), probably for a person who has just passed away.


The original Japanese does not contain a direct reference to thinking, and the fact that “the butterfly seems to think” is understood from the phrase nanigoto zo, which literally means “what on earth is the matter”. The butterfly goes madly from flower to flower, without understand their meaning or purpose.

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Journal of Japanese Poetry Translation

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