Katsushika Hokusai 1760-1849

Pictures of 100 poems by 100 poets, explained by a Wet Nurse
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(89 pictures) in facsimile quality in the original Oban-size 15 x 10 inch.


Poem number 42
Kiyowara no Motosuke 908-990 writer

The original poem:
Have we not been pledged
By the wringing of our sleeves,--
Each for each in turn,--
That o'er Sue's Mount of Pines
Ocean waves shall never pass?

A situational poem by HK:
I am coming with a message from my desperate friend. Have the two of you not sworn under tears again and again eternal love to each other? And now it seems that all the oaths could not save you two from the deepest grief.

Comment by HK:
Hokusai tells of the follies of love, weird stories not making sense, hopeless efforts to tell things where nothing sensible can be explained. There is a vow of love "eternal until the ocean flows over a certain mountain", kimono sleeves filled with tears, people who must tell all to everybody and vice versa.

Poem number 43
Chunagon Atsutada (Fujiwara no Atsutada) 904-944 imperial counselor

The original poem:
Having met my love,
Afterwards my passion was,
When I measured it
With the feeling of the past,
As, if then, I had not loved.

A situational poem by HK:
Behind the shrine at the hour of the ox I am doing the Ushi no Toki Mairi ceremony to punish my unfaithful lover. I have nailed his effigy as a straw-puppet on the tree, it is looking at its self by the mirror on my chest. Oh my dear, why did you cause us all this grief?

Comment by HK:
This is Voodoo Japanese style. A lover must love. A promise is a contract. If feelings do not function as expected then the equivalent of a precision earthquake is appropriate. Lovers changing their mood are ordered to reverse the flow of time until they are exactly back at their initial crazy passionate mood.

Poem number 44
Chunagon Asatada (Fujiwara no Asatada) 910-961 imperial counselor

The original poem:
If a trysting time
There should never be at all,
I should not complain
For myself oft left forlorn,
Or of her in heartless mood.

A situational poem by HK:
You do not belong to this world but we were giving us our love and you gave me my son. We both give you our farewell without bitterness.

Comment by HK:
This is a fairy tale of a man and his love story with a supranatural woman, a "white fox". Though thing went well and he got a son, separation happens. She returns but he says that it would be better if such a story would not happen. This could be wisdom. I think so but cannot judge.

Poem number 45
Kentoku Ko (Fujiwara no Koretada) 924-972 position equivalent to prime minister

The original poem:
Sure that there is none
Who will speak a pitying word,
I shall pass away.
Ah! my death shall only be
My own folly's fitting end.

A situational poem by HK:
The cherries bloom for me but the lotus will bloom too late for me to see it. Soon I will die as a victim of my own folly in love. Because my behaviour was so ridiculous, nobody will pity my destiny. But one must consider that the fine threads of destiny move through many different and some very complex cycles. The final outcome does not tell the full story. Not even the pattern into which the gloomy goddess of destiny has woven the threads of life reveal the truth.

Comment by HK:
This is probably about a death by Harakiri. Maybe in a weak moment, maybe after a lot of sake the poet has cheated his wife and has foolishly lost her love and the meaning of his life. But it could also be that it was the other way around, that the wife had failed and the husband has politely taken the blame including violent death. We cannot know for sure. Hokusai shows a picture of women handling threads. We can assume that the threads signal that supernatural forces, maybe Gods influence our destinies. We are not really the masters of our own lifes. But even if we could master our own lifes, the complexity of the task would be beyond our comprehension.

>> Poems (47 - 50)