Wednesday, January 2, 2013






Kentoku Ko (Fujiwara no Koretada)

Sure that there is none
Who will speak a pitying word,
I shall pass away.

My death, alas, shall only be
My own folly's fitting end.


I knew by the look
you gave me, then,
I had made again

some sad mistake —
Yet looking back,
I remember only

walking by the river,
bending over pools
for pretty stones.


Fujiwara no Koretada, active in the 900s C.E., was made curator of poetry by the Emperor. He rose to a position of great importance. Descended from, and ancestor of, important poets, he appears in several collections. In the poem, his regret for an inappropriate love affair apparently hyperbolically extends to his entire career, whereas Risa is thinking only of a memory of a difficult moment which she finds emblematic of a difficult relationship.

Hokusai's Old Nurse sees a group of women spinning, winding and weaving thread. They resemble the Fates, and there is a suggestion, in the Buddhist texts on the monumental spinning wheel, that we create our own reality (thus creating the Fates -- our destiny is in our own hands, not theirs, for we have only imagined them). Peter Morse quotes Keyes to the effect that these women are also a constellation in the sky, with Vega ("The Weaver") in the window, weaving sadly.