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Cherry Blossom Poetry

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On a day in spring a boy has gathered cherry blossoms under a cherry tree. Nearby a poet is reading some of his poems aloud. As he reads, the boy counts out the cherry blossoms, one blossom for each word of a poem. After a number of poems (haiku) each 17 words in length the boy has 3 blossoms remaining; after some 28- word poems the boy has 5 blossoms left; after some 31-word poems he has 8 blossoms left. What is the least number of blossoms the boy has gathered?

Edo, Japan, 1603-1867

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"Cherry Blossom Poetry," Loci (April 2008)

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