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 36
Kiyowara no Fukayabu 10th century poet

The original poem:
In the summer night,
While the evening still seems here,
Lo! the dawn has come.
In what region of the clouds
Has the wandering moon found place?

A situational poem by HK:
The jolly evening is not over. There is still sake to drink in enchanting company and I see the little boat bringing more food. Surely the fish will be pleased when they clean our dishes again and again? And I hope they also get their share of sake with it. Tonight it seems that dawn is coming much too early. How can that be? You can see there is still no sign of the people on shore who will soon start for their days work.

Poem number 37
Bunya no Asayasu (Fumiya no Asayasu) 10th century poet

The original poem:
In the autumn fields,
When the heedless wind blows by
O'er the pure-white dew,
How the myriad unstrung gems
Everywhere are scattered round!

A situational poem by HK:
We are very young sailors and have a little problem handling our boat. No wonder the wind has blown us into this fascinating bay. Is it not extraordinary, how the autumn wind has scattered the most beautiful gems of nature all around. Gems which are more precious than those money can buy. How enchanting it would be if we could line them up on a string and place them around the necks of beautiful girls.

Poem number 38
Lady Ukon daughter of a general, eventuall wife of Emperor Daigo

The original poem:
Though forgotten now,
For myself I do not care:
He, by oath, was pledged;--
And his life, who is forsworn,
That is, ah! so pitiful.

A situational poem by HK:
There are vows to be followed and there are strings attached in life. My lover has broken his vow. He is the one to be pitied, not me.

Comment by HK:
A lady says that she and her lover had been bound together by the invisible rope of vows of love. He has broken his promises. She says that by this act of infidelity he is the real loser. To me, Hokusais picture does not tell anything interesting. Well, 4 people walk 100 times between the temple gates and another place. They count down by transferring 100 pieces of plants from one hand to the other. That - thrilling? Could it be that Hokusai wanted to create a picture void of love and therefore void of meaning? That indeed would make it a very advanced abstract event in the history of fine art.

Poem number 39
Sanji Hitoshi (Minamoto no Hitoshi) 880-951 court counselor

The original poem:
Bamboo-growing plain,
With a small-field bearing reeds!
Though I bear my lot,
Why is it too much to bear?
Why do I still love her so?

A situational poem by HK:
I walk through what I assume to be a beautiful landscape with rice fields, swamps and mountains. The sun is shining but all has lost its meaning for me since I have lost my love.

Comment by HK:
Contrary to poem 38, a man has lost his love and is in deep sorrow. He is in a fantastically beautiful and interesting landscape. Are there two different sorrows about lost love, one boring and one with rich colours?

Poem number 40
Taira no Kanemori died in 990, governor of Echigo province

The original poem:
Though I would conceal,
In my face it yet appears,--
My fond, secret love:--
So much that he asks of me,
"Does not something trouble you?"

A situational poem by HK:
I am overwhelmed by my secret love. It is almost impossible to hide this from people around me. If somebody pays attention to my face, my love will be readable like a book. If somebody scrutinises my face with a magnifying glass - as physiognomists indeed are doing it - he will explode in laughter.

Comment by HK:
Contrary to poems 38 and 39 a man is overwhelmed b a secret love affair. However he would like to keep secret what is written all over his face and would sure provoke an indiscreet remark from the professional physiognomist around the corner. He tries to wait until everybody is gone and then slip though. He feels as if his soul were naked. Hokusai enjoys how people are hopelessly tormented by 1000 individual experiences of love.

>> Poems (42 - 45)