Wednesday, January 14, 2015






Noin Hoshi (monk)

By the windstorm's blast,
From Mimuro's mountain slopes
Maples' leaves are torn

And as rich brocades, are wrought
On Tatsuta's quiet stream.


In summer I rest
beneath maple leaves.
In fall I rake them

for the garden,
to grow and eat
next year

last summer's shade.


Noin Hoshi, a priest, was also a noted literary critic. He won a poetry contest with this offering in 1049 C.E. The Tatsuta River with its famous drifting maple leaves in autumn was a conventional topic, as we have seen elsewhere in this collection.

The Old Nurse seems more interested in the laborers along the stream than the maple leaves. There are log raftmen, fishermen, and a boy with, perhaps, a net. The leaves from the mountain are almost a ghostly presence -- or absence -- in this drawing.

Risa "farms" one acre; that is, she maintains a large garden and a number of fruit trees, and enjoys, by the sweat of her brow, a certain level of food independence. But she must gather organic matter every year to replenish the soil, and the seasonal fall of the leaves thus becomes a colorful part of her work.