Katsushika Hokusai 1760-1849

Pictures of 100 poems by 100 poets, explained by a Wet Nurse
Visipix.com proudly presents Hokusais last great series as complete as possible
(89 pictures) in facsimile quality in the original Oban-size 15 x 10 inch.


Poem number 21
Sosei Hoshi (Yoshimine no Harutoshi) born nca. 845 was an officer of the palace guards and became a priest

The original poem:
Just because she said,
"In a moment I will come,"
I've awaited her
E'en until the moon of dawn,
In the long month, hath appeared

A situational poem by HK:
I believe in what my beloved woman tells me and I believe in the power of my rosary. My beloved woman has said "I come in a moment". I have waited all night but she did not come, only, at dawn the moon appeared. So I know now where the moon is. Anyway, right now he is looking rather ugly as if he had not slept. But speaking for me I would prefer to know where my beautiful woman could be.

Comment by HK:
The poem tells of a broken date. After a night of waiting, it must finally dawn to the man that the girl will not show up. Hokusai does not care about the poem. His picture is a remark like: "Oh, women! When they ask you to wait for a minute, expect that you wait for hours regardless how long you have been married or not. There is always something wrong with the kimono, or the cat wants to get in or water is boiling - the list is endless".

Poem number 22
Bunya no Yasuhide (Fumiya no Yasuhide) 9th century, member of the Emperors family, one of the six greatest poets

The original poem:
Since 'tis by its breath
Autumn's leaves of grass and trees
Riven are and waste,--
Men may to the mountain wind
Fitly given the name, "The Wild."

Comment by HK:
The women try to keep their decency. A mans eyes and nose are where they never should be. Bookkeepers try to keep their files. Lawyers try to keep their arguments and facts and proofs. The authorities try to keep their banner and with it its crown from harvested rice. A man tries to gain back his umbrella. But the wind wants to play. With the umbrella, the papers, the facts, the proofs, the eyes, the decency, the government, the banner and the rice. The wind is almost as thin and slippery as a ghost which makes it impossible to fight back.

Poem number 23
Oe no Chisato 9th century, eventually a tutor of Emperor Seiwa

The original poem:
Gaze I at the moon,
Myriad things arise in thought,
And my thoughts are sad;--
Yet, 'tis not for me alone,
That the autumn time has come

Comment by HK:
The sadness of autumn is sadness for all nature and sadness for everybody. Mortality concerns the geese who will soon be butchered. The warmth of the sun and the green of the trees are fading. We all feel that the burden on our back becomes heavier. The woodcutters carry as much wood as they can. The priest is carrying a portable shrine to reach people far away. The woodcutters child is too tired to walk and needs to be carried. A woman carries the same size burden like the man plus maybe a child in her womb. The almost lame is guiding the blind. Their backs are bending under their own weight.

Poem number 24
Kan Ke (Sugawara no Michizane) 844-903, minister

The original poem:
At the present time,
Since no offering I could bring,
See, Mount Tamuke!
Here are brocades of red leaves,
At the pleasure of the god.

A situational poem by HK:
The Emperor comes to see the famous maple leaves at Mount Tamuke. All the brocade on the Emperors oxcart show maple leaves but cannot keep up in the comparison with real trees. The help of the Emperor forgot to bring the offerings. The ox lies down. He feels it when the chain of events must be brought to a stop.

Poem number 25
Sanjo Udaijin (Fujiwara no Sadakata) 873-932, minister

The original poem:
If thy name be true,
Trailing vine of "Meeting Hill,"
Is there not some way
Whereby, without ken of men,
I can draw thee to my side?

A situational poem by HK:
These surroundings are called "the trailing vine Meeting Hill". If the name speaks the truth the vine should offer me a trail to a hidden place where I and my love could hide for a long moment from the eyes of the others.

Comment by HK:
In Hokusais picture love birds are flying around a house. They have an instinct for the facts of live. The lady on her way to her lover will now pass a peasant carrying an axe and a bag. He smiles knowingly but is politely stepping out of the way. When Peter Morse commented the picture, the lady was hiding her face. In my copy of his book she has already lowered the cowl of her cloak. Look how far things have advanced in your book. She and her maid have lowered their eyes in well-trained modesty but I am certain that she - like most persons I know - is figuring out if - under the right circumstances - this man might be a fascinating partner for sex. The mans face says YES. And as far as I can detect it, also "and you wonderful lady, you too, and you and I know it. However I wish you and your lover all the best I can." Life makes them carry their smiles in opposite directions. Such is life.

>> Poems (26 - 30)