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 67
Lady Suwo no Naishi died 1110, governor family

The original poem:
If, but through the dreams
Of a spring's short night, I'd rest
Pillowed on this arm,
And my name were blameless stained,
Hard, indeed, would be my fate.

A situational poem by HK:
You kindly offered me your arm as a pillow. I slept well and my dreams were nice. But why are people whispering about what did not happen.

Comment by HK:
The poem and the picture despise people who spread gossip. A lady asks for a pillow for sleeping. A polite young man offers his arm. She cannot accept because gossip would inevitable spread and destroy her.
The problem itself goes deep. An important part of people have an irresistible urge to destroy other peoples rose gardens. In the Mosaic Genesis the first person suffering death was Abel, murdered by bis brother Kain. The myth explains that murder is in the world since the beginning and it is not happening accidentially. It is an integral part of life itself. Destruction is not necessarily a reaction needing a reason. There are persons who, when they see a particularly attractive ant hill, cannot resist the temptation to kick their boots into it.

Poem number 68
Sanjo-no-In 976-1017, Emperor in 1012-1016

The original poem:
If, against my wish,
In the world of sorrows still,
I for long should live;--
How then I would pine, alas!
For this moon of middle-night.

A situational poem by HK:
Dark clouds cover my palace but not the moon. Sign on the wall, eight prayers on the gohei, more prayers on my door. Could one of them give me back my empire?

Comment by HK:
While the poem 67 is about destructive urges, poem 68 is about gloomy moods feeding themselves, especially in the night. In nights without moon and nights with the moon. For gloom, both situations are felt to be specially gloomy. It is in the mind and everything is pointing at it.

Poem number 69
Noin Hoshi (Tachibana no Nagayasu) 998-1050 priest, governor family

The original poem:
By the wind-storm's blast,
From Mimuro's mountain slopes
Maples leaves are torn,
And as rich brocades, are wrought
On blue Tatta's quiet stream.

A situational poem by HK:
River Tatta is wearing its rich brocade of maple leaves which the storm has brought from near and form far. But we, we have to go on with our work here and elsewhere.

Comment by HK:
The poem praises the nationally famous beauty of the maple leaves in the river, especially after a storm. In Hokusais picture the river is a symbol of time. Life happens in all kinds of forms. Leaves have been alive, now they are dead and for a short time floating away. People do a thousand things. Some also float on the river, others dip their fishing rods into the river to catch fish for their meals. There is no final goal to be reached.

Poem number 70
Ryozen Hoshi 11th century. poet and priest

The original poem:
In my loneliness
From my humble home gone forth,
When I looked around,
Everywhere it was the same;--
One lone, darkening autumn eve.

A situational poem by HK:
The magpies fly away. It is autumn. It is a dark evening in autumn. With a light and some drums we move along, passing at the sign of life and death.

Comment by HK:
The poem is in contrast to poem 69. Everywhere is the lone dark autumn evening. There is the sadness about the fact that all life shares the final destiny of death. Hokusais picture is totally different. It sees no reason for dark thoughts. It shows a huge landmark with an edict by the government. It has an arrangement of plants and flowers. Life and government are contrasting. A flock of birds is flying around. A group of persons, some with musical instruments, some dancing are moving on to a festival.

>> Poems (71 - 75)