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 71
Dainagon Tsunenobu (Minamoto no Tsunenobu, Katsura no Dainagon) 1016-1097 statesman

The original poem:
When the evening comes,
From the rice leaves at my gate
Gentle knocks are heard;
And, into my round rush-hut,
Autumn's roaming breeze makes way.

A situational poem by HK:
Autumn has knocked on my door. Evening is coming. Rice is carried to my house. Everything is cleaned. Preparations are done.

Comment by HK:
Hokusai shows people using the natural resources for their needs including washing their feet. There is nothing romantic about this. But one man has to hold his hat and notices the wind. A carrier has heard the birds and looks at them.

Poem number 72
Lady Yushi Naishinno-Ke no Kii 1087-1109 served at the court of Emperor Horikawa

The original poem:
Well I know the fame
Of the fickle waves that beat
On Takashi's strand!
Should I e'er go near that shore
I should only wet my sleeves.

A situational poem by HK:
Who is that man stepping into his sandals? It is autumn time, the wind is coming up. If I were to go near the sand dunes, the waves might catch my sleeves and wet them more than tears could do.

Comment by HK:
The lady poet expresses her reluctance to get involved with the great powers of nature and love because she fears that a lot of tears could be the result. In Hokusais picture a man has been travelling in a kago. A servant approaches a bypassing woman and stops her by holding her sleeve. Peter Morse suggests that he might simply ask for directions in the particularly dramatic landscape of huge waves and dunes and strong wind. I believe that he points at his master, explaining that he dared to touch the lady not for himself but because his master would like to say hello. Maybe Hokusai makes it clear that gestures of possessiveness, like grasping a sleeve are not a good start for friendship. The impolite gesture of the servant sheds a devastating light on his masters true character and lack of respect for ladies. The outstretched finger has its own obscenity. I read the body language of the servant as "mean bird attacking prey". I see the whole scene as "sportscar owner thinks that country girls have neither brain nor judgment". Surely his porters had to burn rubber and show horsepowers.

Poem number 73
Gon-Chunagon Masafusa (Oe no Masafusa, Oe no Tadafusa) 1041-1111, politician

The original poem:
On that distant mount,
O'er the slope below the peak,
Cherries are in flower;--
May the mists of hither hills
Not arise to veil the scene.

A situational poem by HK:
The cherry blossoms are in full bloom. Later, the mists will rise, watering the blossoms.

Comment by HK:
The poet was a high level very intelligent government man who had learned Chinese at the age of 7, graduated at University at the age of 15, contradicted the Emperor, was always right, could smell an oyster 10 miles away etc. Does that describe a pain in the ass?
In his poem of course the cherry blossoms here and now are not the ones he praises. He asks that the mists should not rise because they might hide the specially delicate cherry blossoms on a hill at the other side of the flat lands.
Of course Hokusai has raised the mists and could not care less about the high level mans blossoms. He shows "the very common people" he liked including a fat guy maybe drunk, lying in the grass. A busload of tourists arrive. Everybody is happy with what they find here and all but the one not present here have a jolly good day.

Poem number 74
Minamoto no Shunrai (Minamoto no Toshiyori Ason) 1055-1129 politician

The original poem:
I did not make prayer
At the shrine of Mercy's God,
That the unkind one
Should become as pitiless
As the storms of Hase's hills.

A situational poem by HK:
I had left the warm shelter to pray. But a cold winter wind is blowing into my face. My prayers were not heard and did not turn the beloved towards me.

Comment by HK:
The Goddess of Mercy - but also the Goddess who makes sure that love is returned - has a temple at Hase´s hills, an area famous for very unpleasant cold storms. The poet prayed there and accepted the harsh climate. Unfortunately he did not get the expected results and complains now that the Goddess has cheated him. Hokusai shows eager persons around a teahouse near the temple. The teahouse has a roof looking like Mount Fuji. One would expect that this would help. However, I myself have thanked God several times in my life that He had not fulfilled all my wishes including some concerning females. I believe that the poet should stop complaining.

Poem number 75
Fujiwara no Mototoshi 1060-1142, famous conservative poet

The original poem:
Though your promise was
"Like the dew on moxa plant"
And, to me, was life;
Yet, alas! the year has passed
Even into autumn time.

A situational poem by HK:
It had all been so promising, but another year has passed and another autumn has begun.

Comment by HK:
Poem 74 concerned a prayer which was not fulfilled by a Goddess. Poem 75 concerns the fact that the Emperor has promised promotion to somebody but has failed to fulfil it. When reminded he says that one should keep faith. Hokusai shows a scene in a Buddhist temple. It is very busy with a lot of people. Maybe it is all those people concerned with unfulfilled promises hoping for success by keeping faith.

>> Poems (76 - 80)