The blossoms have fallen:
Our minds are now
Koyu-ni (18th century) (translated by R. H. Blyth), in R. H. Blyth, Haiku, Volume 2: Spring (Hokuseido Press 1950), page 365.
The lines in Japanese which Blyth renders as "our minds are now tranquil" contain the words hito-gokoro (which may be translated as "human mind, heart, soul, or core") and shizuka (which may be translated as "calm, quiet, peaceful, or still"). The kanji (Chinese characters) used for these words convey all of these different senses at once. Choosing a single English word for each kanji is a compromise that had to be made by Blyth, and I am not in a position to second-guess him.
Blyth suggests that Koyu-ni's poem may have its source in a waka written nearly a century earlier:
Were there no cherry blossoms
In this world of ours,
The hearts of men in spring
Might know serenity.
Ariwara no Narihira (825-880) (translated by R. H. Blyth), Ibid, page 365.
However, this does not mean that Koyu-ni simply recast Ariwara no Narihira's poem into a haiku: her poem is the product of a moment of awareness, and her memory of the earlier poem was part of that moment of awareness. This is something akin to writing a poem about a loved one who has passed away and having Wordsworth's "A slumber did my spirit seal" come to mind at the same time.
James McIntosh Patrick, "A City Garden" (1940)
The cherry trees and plum trees have been in full blossom here for the past few weeks, and their petals are now beginning to fall. Hence, I have been mulling over Koyu-ni's haiku quite a bit, while being mindful that one mustn't think too much about haiku: they speak for themselves.
There is nothing lovelier than walking through a shower of cherry or plum petals, is there? Just as there is nothing lovelier than walking through a shower of falling leaves in autumn. These passing wonders are beautiful in large part because of our knowledge of their transience, and we do our best to wring all that we can from their beauty, to try to hold on to what we know is departing before our eyes. A great deal of emotion is involved.
When the petals vanish, the beauty vanishes, but a reminder of transience (ours, the world's) vanishes as well. (Although transience never vanishes; it only changes form.) Thus: "Our minds are now tranquil."
On the other hand, she may simply have been thinking of the joy that accompanies the sight of the blossoming trees: the beauty makes it hard to keep one's wits. Tranquillity follows excitement.
But I do not intend to bind Koyu-ni to this single moment of awareness captured in a haiku. I will presume to say on her behalf that this moment was, for her, part of all that is passing, and that this was a fact she was well aware of. There is a larger context to the falling petals and the falling leaves.
What a strange thing,
To be thus alive
Beneath the cherry blossoms!
Issa (1763-1828) (translated by R. H. Blyth), Ibid, page 350.
Here is another way of looking at it:
To wake, alive, in this world,
Shoha (1727-1771) (translated by R. H. Blyth), in R. H. Blyth, Haiku, Volume 4: Autumn-Winter (Hokuseido Press 1952), page 217.
Or consider this:
The autumn wind is blowing;
We are alive and can see each other,
You and I.
Shiki (1867-1902) (translated by R. H. Blyth), in R. H. Blyth, Haiku, Volume 3: Summer-Autumn (Hokuseido Press 1952), page 413.
Wonder and gratitude are at the heart of all haiku.
James McIntosh Patrick, "Springtime in Eskdale" (1935)
The larger context includes, of course, mortality. "There will be dying, there will be dying,/but there is no need to go into that." (Derek Mahon, "Everything Is Going To Be All Right.") If we wish to be dramatic (but nonetheless accurate), we can say that the petals and the leaves are whispering "Death" as they spin to earth. Albeit beautifully.
Here, again, is that larger context.
The cherry flowers bloom;
We gaze at them;
They fall, and . . .
Onitsura (1660-1738) (translated by R. H. Blyth), in R. H. Blyth, Haiku, Volume 2: Spring, page 361.
Do not also the petals flutter down,
Just like that?
Issa (translated by R. H. Blyth), Ibid, page 363. Note the use of "also" in the second line.
If we are lucky -- very lucky -- we may one day, for a moment, experience the tranquillity of which Koyu-ni speaks.
The swift years
Taigi (1709-1771) (translated by R. H. Blyth), Ibid, page 42.
James McIntosh Patrick, "Glamis Village" (1939)