Thursday, January 29, 2015






Fujiwara no Kiyosuke Ason

If I long should live,
Then the present days
May be dear to me –

Just as past times, though filled with grief,
Gently return to mind.


Though I burned
with sorrow and shame,
losing you, I now

only remember
your affectionate
surprise that sunny

day, finding me
on the lakeshore.


Fujiwara no Kiyosuke, active in 1100s C.E., was a prolific poet and anthologist. It has often been conjectured that he is speaking not of unconsummated love but of evil times. It could go either way, couldn't it? The poet is aware that memory of these times, should he live so long, will not be the times themselves. So, as HK of notes: what is real?

Many artists were stymied by this one. How do you show, with no landscape or season so much as hinted at, a thought about thought? Hokusai's Old Nurse has no trouble. She thinks of the doings of the rich and famous re-enacted on a country stage. Whatever was remembered of the events depicted was different than the events; what was written down in the chronicles was different from what was remembered; the play which was adapted from the chronicles was different from its source; and each new actor re-interprets the role. Furthermore, each spectator experiences the play from a unique perspective, both bodily (sitting, standing, left, right) and mentally (personal experiences leading up to this moment, as well as one's present mood, etc.). This would be true even for the young ladies, who appear to be twins! And now we have Hokusai's hands rendering this scene -- what is he thinking? Already, perhaps, it is different from what he thought as he began it ...

Risa remembers that a rejection was very painful at the time, but two years later, when she unexpectedly met her former love on the shore of a large lake, what mattered was that she could be of assistance -- there, in the now, in the glorious sunshine. And afterward the sunshine, eternally glinting from the water, is all that remained.