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 91
Go-Kyogoku Sessho Saki no Dajodaijin (Fujiwara noYoshitsune) 1169-1206, prime minister and regent

The original poem:
On a chilling mat,
Drawing close my folded quilt,
I must sleep alone,
While all through the frosty night
Sounds a cricket's forlorn chirp.

A situational poem by HK:
I am feeling lonely in this cold night. From somewhere the faint chirping of a cricket keeps me company. Maybe it has the same feelings I have. Maybe I should now start to chirp also in my own way so that the two of us could share our loneliness. Then each of us would only have to carry 50% of our common grief.

Comment by HK:
This is the only multimedia picture in the set. The poem and the picture are needed plus a chirping cricket or a chirping processor chip. The women in love is the center of the picture. Her lover is away, only the almost empty landscape is visible in the picture. Artists can make the invisible visible. The poem describes the chirping of a cricket. It is a sign of life in the almost empty space. In Buddhism only the Nirvana can be empty. Hokusai must have considered means to visualise the chirping of the cricket. The lady might hold a hand to an ear and focus into the distance. A cricket could sit on an object in the foreground. He certainly wanted to make an exception and rely that he poem accompanies the picture and therefore he knew his audience is aware of the tiny creature bringing life in the almost empty landscape. I am full of admiration for this artistic boldness.

From the chirping the lady knows that her lover is somewhere in that almost empty space and will come back

Poem number 92
Lady Nijo-in no Sanuki 1141-1217 Member of the Emperors court

The original poem:
Like a rock at sea,
E'en at ebb-tide hid from view,
Is my tear-drenched sleeve:--
Never for a moment dry,
And unknown in human ken.

A situational poem by HK:
All day we are fishing clams and scallops in the shallow water. I always have my baby with me and can feed it whenever it cries. Nobody will notice that my sleeves are not wet from the sea but from my tears of love.

Comment by HK:
The woman works hard collecting clams in shallow water. Then she carries her share of heavy baskets. All the time she carries and feeds her baby. But when her kimono sleeves are not wet from the sea, they are wet from her tears while she is thinking of her lover. She says that nobody knows how she lives and what her feelings are. A lesson I teach my children and my apprentices: "Never forget that every person you meet is seven times more complex than you think."

Poem number 93
Kamakura Udaijin (Minamoto no Sanetomo) 1192-1219. Son of Minamoto no Yoritomo, conqueror and ruler of all Japan.

The original poem:
Would that this, our world,
Might be ever as it is!
What a lovely scene!
See that fisherwoman's boat,
Rope-drawn, rowed along the beach.

A situational poem by HK:
Boys and birds play around and immensly enjoy the freedom of each moment. Men, each strong in his own way in mind or muscle power, join their efforts in making something big for future enterprises tasks which will be even bigger.

Comment by HK:
Hokusai probably understood little of collective intelligence principles behind the organisation of flocks of birds, e.g. that a flock knows things about disturbing the mind of a predator that is far beyond the brain capacity of a single bird. It is also interesting that he was drawing "nice arrangements" and not the real pattern that flocks of birds form - those which you see in the sky and on photos.
Hokusai explains that people collaborating together can achieve goals beyond the capabilities of the single worker.

Poem number 95
Saki no Daisojo Jien 1155.1225, archbishop

The original poem:
Though I am not fit,
I have dared to shield the folk
Of this woeful world
With my black-dyed sacred sleeve:--
I, who live on Mount Hiei.

A situational poem by HK:
I live as the bishop on Mount Hiei. I know that I am just a humble servant for a higher cause. With my sacred black sleeve I help to protect the ignorant world from evil and grief. This is my duty.

Comment by HK:
Hokusai believes in artists and not in priests. There are many in Japan and around the world, telling people how to live. Many times the priests do not give the impression that their own lives are examples one should follow. Impressive robes are made to impress you. Of what? The enlightenment tells you that you cannot let other people to think for you. Hypathia of Alexandria (360-415 A.C:) said: "It is better to risk thinking wrong than not to think at all".

>> Poems (96 - 99)