japonisme: ribbit

04 November 2007



(War Time)

There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;

And frogs in the pools singing at night,
And wild plum-trees in tremulous white; Robins will wear their feathery fire
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;

And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree
If mankind perished utterly;

And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn,
Would scarcely know that we were gone.Sara Teasdale

Online text © 1998-2007 Poetry X. All rights reserved.
From Flame and Shadow | Macmillian, 1920

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Blogger Princess Haiku said...

Dear Lotus,
This is charming and yes, soon "soft rains will come."

I wonder when poetry and visual arts stopped being able to express beauty. Your space is such a little paradise.

I am feeling a little downcast because I wrote a long post about my favorite pianist, la belle Helene and then blogger chopped it off. -Just a poem I had included and a video was left.

And I was thinking there was some reason I took two courses in literary criticism. -And I could say informed by this and neo- that. Voila!

And-my "Day of the Dead" and "All Hallows" posts offended some of my readers who think ill of spirits and such.

-Such as me said Princess Haiku, and she floated away quickly into a bed of dark night. But not before she left a flower behind for her friend, Lotus

04 November, 2007 23:07  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

i remember reading an article in 'the nation' in maybe the 80s lamenting the uncoolness of beauty as an art trend. not that i know much arout current art trends, but i wonder if that's still true.

something's been weird with blogger lately. my posts keep losing formatting, ie a poem in stanzas will suddenly all run together like one big paragraph, so i have to go through and re-break all the lines and stanzas.

so i went and read all the comments for those posts and they were all positive. did you get some weird email? just tell them they're lucky they're not in japan!

sometimes i want the sound of rain so much at night that i will actually imagine i hear it.

05 November, 2007 00:40  
Anonymous Liza said...

Fascinating cartoon. The frogs are in blackface,with exagerated white lips etc. yet represent recognizable African American Jazz singers. Fats Waller, Cab Calloway et al. It's hard to watch it without cringing at the racism, yet it is also so engaging. I guess that's how racist propaganda is effective.

I remember that type cartoon being my introduction to Jazz, back in the fifties when they were sometimes shown on tv, and wonder if I was also aware of the racist stereotypes they presented. Probably not, at the time.

As usual, fascinating blog.

05 November, 2007 15:13  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

yes, other than the "stepin fetchit" character for a few seconds towards the end, i wondered about that. (though even that character could be a stereotype thrown in sort of as sarcasm?)

but the rest, i wonder if the look of the frogs is done in a racist way. and i really wonder if showing in a kind of real way a kind of music that was wonderful and pretty controversial at the time. (remember 'covers'?)

i watched it a few times with these things in mind, and found myself wondering what could be seen as offensive. surely not that frogs are entertaining us, and that they're a lot of black entertainers could easily be seen as cool.

05 November, 2007 15:57  
Anonymous liza said...

The cartoon was an homage to blackface minstrelsy, which was a hugely popular genre at the time, or just before that time. Everyone watching the cartoon at the time it was made would have gotten the reference.

Yes, I remember covers. This cartoon is a cover, in it's own way. The cute frog (white performer) covers for the threatening black performer.

The cartoonists obviously loved jazz, which is what makes this cartoon so appealing. Their choice to do it a a blackface minstrel show only proves that they were caught up in their own times, as are we all.

But had they chosen to make the frogs more like the Fukazawa - that is, if they had not gone the familiar route of the blackface minstrel, the cartoon would have sent a very different message to its viewers.

It's why we should all be thinking about the message we are sending with our images.

05 November, 2007 21:06  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

(coincidentally i just spent a bunch of time poking around your wonderful gallery....)

i didn't think minstrelsy was still around in 1936, but it didn't strike me in that way. though it's not mentioned specifically (others from the same series are), there's a long discussion here. have you ever seen the betty boop cartoons with cab calloway himself in them?

05 November, 2007 21:22  
Anonymous Liza said...

Himself? You mean a film of him, or a realistic drawing of him? Because that reminds me of my pre teen daughters when they saw the new Archie comic with more "realistic" drawings. They said, "So this is what archie and betty and veronica really look like!" I had to laugh and laugh, and tell them that it was still a drawing and that Archie doesn't really exist.

Except that art really does exist.

And yes, I'm a huge Betty Boop fan.

I recommend the book, "Hollywood Flatlands: Animation, Critical Theory and the Avant-Garde" by Esther Leslie if you are interested in cartoons and their relationship to modern art.

Glad you like my gallery. Or, rather, my website.

05 November, 2007 21:34  
Blogger lotusgreen said...


05 November, 2007 21:37  

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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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