Saturday, July 30, 2011






Yozei In

From Tsukuba's peak,
Falling waters have become
Mina's still, full flow –

So my love has grown to be
Like the river: deep.


The deepening river
flows toward sea:
it can then be enough

to sit together
without words.
Couples pass, smiling

despite hard rain.


Risa's thought here is possibly slightly different from Yozei's, who was producing a simple but striking simile, reinforced by a play on words. Risa is thinking of the way a relationship can envelop a couple in their own space. Troubles seem smaller, perhaps, when shared in this way. The photograph she has chosen for this poem does not show a river, though a brisk mountain stream has its source in the crater of Broken Top Mountain. She took this picture on her honeymoon.

Yozei became Emperor at eight, in 877. Attacked by mental illness that made him prone to violence, he was forcibly deposed at fifteen by his courtiers and lived in retirement to the age of eighty-one. Hokusai's picture for this poem is an unfinished drawing of common people near a stream, presumably the Mina River, with mountains in the distance. They are both men and women; and Tsukuba, the name of the mountain, is written with the character for "man" and "woman."