Cherry Blossom in the Moonlight

Years ago I read a passage in a book about an ancient Japanese party.

During the day the snow had fallen amongst the cherry trees. On the night of the party, someone commanded that snow be brought into the room, and a bough of cherry blossom placed upon it. The lanterns were dimmed so that the scene could be viewed by moonlight.

A poet was present, no doubt the greatest of Japanese poets, for that would make the story better. The poet was asked to write a poem about the scene. He replied

The snow, the blossom, the moonlight. Sometimes things do not need to be improved upon.

Or words to that effect. I’m sure he put it a lot better. I’ve hunted through my books for the passage many times and never found the original passage.

Then again, as the sense of the passage has stayed with me, perhaps it doesn’t matter.

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