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 86
Saigyo Hoshi (Sato Norikiyo) 118-1190 poet amd priest

The original poem:
Is it then the moon
That has made me sad, as though
It had bade me grieve?
Lifting up my troubled face,--
Ah! the tears, the mournful tears!

A situational poem by HK:
The moon and I, I and the moon. Now he is full and now he starts to fade away. Does he has anything to do with my grief, my mourning, tears and maybe even my troubles?

Comment by HK:
Hokusai clearly identifies himself with Saigyo. I would consider this picture as a self-portrait

The poems 81 and 85 tell about morning gloom after a night with troubled sleep. This poem is about sadness in the evening of the day and the evening of life. It seems that the question is raised wether the sadness of the old man - Saigyo or Hokusai - has more to do with the world or more with the mans mind. The question is fundamental for Buddhists because the microcosm in the person and macrocosm of the world are one and the same.

Poem number 87
Jakuren Hoshi (Fujiwara no Sadanaga) 1139-1202, priest

The original poem:
Lo, an autumn eve!
See the deep vale's mists arise
Mong the fir-tree's leaves
That still hold the dripping wet
Of the (chill day's) sudden showers.

A situational poem by HK:
You must be careful on those autumn evenings, when shadows creep up around you and in your mind. Even when a shower has ended, the fir-trees will continue to rain the drops they had held up, first resembling bursts and finally becoming thin tears.

Comment by HK:
Honestly speaking I cannot follow the sadness of the poem. It is a chilly, rainy day like many others. So what? I understand that the raindrops are put into the context of tears. Tears can be shed for the most terrible things in the world.
I respect that. However, I like and prefer the drawing of Hokusai. It is of outstanding beauty, composition and clarity. I see it as one of the best works of the master.

Poem number 88
Lady Kwoka Monin no Betto 12th century poet at the Emperors court

The original poem:
For but one night's sake,
Short as is a node of reed
Grown in Naniwa bay,
Must I, henceforth, long for him
With my whole heart, till life's close?

A situational poem by HK:
In the morning the night with my lover seems to be so short like a node of one stem of reef. But thinking of my longing for him for all my life, might all that love finally add up to be like a rich harvest? Will my man be exhausted?

Comment by HK:
The poem describes the crazy thoughts of a women´s very satisfying relationship with her lover. If every sexual climax would count like a tiny joint of one single stem of reef. If then she could add all that happiness up at the end of a full life - she wonders - how much then could the load of reef weight? Hokusais picture gives the answer. "A lot of reef indeed Madame - a lot of reef. It would exhaust several very strong men and a very strong cart to move it somewhere." Hokusai enjoyed himself immensely, answering the question of the lady. Like Hokusai I wish all ladies in the world the very best happiness.
The mathematics: Somebody close to me wanted an estimate. 0.5 million nodes on Hokusais cart must come close. That makes 15 nodes per day for 100 years.

Poem number 89
Lady Shikishi Naishinno (Shokushi Naishinno) 1150-1201 daughter of Emperor Go-Shirakawa

The original poem:
Life! Thou string of gems!
If thou art to end, break now.
For, if yet I live,
All I do to hide my love
May at last grow weak and fail.

A situational poem by HK:
Spring would be blooming in our room with your presence. We waited as long as we could, until first my maids, then I myself fell asleep while life is crumbling away form us all.

Comment by HK:
This poem is the opposite of poem 88. All men in the world should write a letter to that man reminding him of his duties as described in poem 88. The lady has done everything she could that there is no misunderstanding. She cared for a beautiful ink drawing of a wild horse in her room. Everybody coming into the room should instantly recognise and respect the ladies dreams.

Poem number 90
Lady Impu Monin no Osuke (Sukeko) died 1219, Fujiwara family

The original poem:
Let me show him these!
E'en the fisherwomen's sleeves
On Ojima's shores,
Though wet through and wet again,
Do not change their dyer's hues.

A situational poem by HK:
Seeing that you get ready to leave, I would wet my sleeves with my tears. This time, this cannot happen because I already soaked them in the rice field where I worked hard.

Comment by HK:
Hokusais picture refers to the poems 88 and 89. The women expects her lover to be with her. In this picture he has a fantastic horse, well tended, strong and with beautiful hair. It would go well with the horse on the picture in poem 89. But the man is already leaving and his lady is now disappointed. It might be a pun that the women had already worked while the man probably had slept.

>> Poems (91 - 95)