japonisme: separated at death?

23 October 2006

separated at death?

in the kabuki play Bancho Sarayashiki, Okiku is a maid at the mansion of the Japanese samurai Tessan Aoyama. The samurai wants to seduce the lovely girl but she rejects his advances. Aoyama uses a trick. He hides one of ten valuable Dutch plates and threatens Okiku to make public that she had stolen the plate unless she agrees to become his mistress. In her desperation Okiku throws herself into the well and drowns.

Okiku's ghost comes out every night, counting from one to nine and then breaks out into a terrible howling and sobbing. Finally Aoyama goes insane by the daily apparitions at night. on the right is her ghost, as depicted by yoshitoshi.

the one on the left is by koloman moser, a founding member of the vienna secession. it is an illustration for rilke's poem,

Early Spring

Harshness vanished. A sudden softness
has replaced the meadows' wintry grey.
Little rivulets of water changed
their singing accents. Tendernesses,

hesitantly, reach toward the earth
from space, and country lanes are showing
these unexpected subtle risings
that find expression in the empty trees.

Translated by Albert Ernest Flemming

i couldn't find another translation. also, not really sure how the illustration relates to it. anyone have any ideas? moser said the one in black and white is the duchess, a character in the poem. ??? i could find no other rilke poem about spring. as always, all commentary is welcomed.

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hi, and thanks so much for stopping by. i spend all too much time thinking my own thoughts about this stuff, so please tell me yours. i thrive on the exchange!

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