japonisme: adam and noah and goose

18 September 2008

adam and noah and goose

when a japanese print shows many different animals, half of them become surreal, as we see in this image entitled 'the magician's party."

when we in the west, however, show multiple animals, we are much more realistic, showing real situations: the garden of eden, noah's ark, and mother goose.


Whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.

When the Deluge had passed,
into my head, by twos, came the creeping things,
the horn of their jawbones shining, and the things of the air,
wing-cases breaking like clasp knives, asking their names.

Storm-light colored their passing
with an animal imminence.
They wheeled
on the pile of their plumage, in the dread of their animal being,
and rode in the ark of my head

where the possible
worked like a sea.
Nothing was given me there. Nothing was known.
Feather and scale,
concussions of muscle and fur,
the whale
and the name for the whale
rose on the void
like a waterspout,
being, and ceasing to be:

till keel clashed and I spoke: mayfly,
wood-weasel, stingray, cormorant, mole—
choosing the syllables,
holding a leaf to the torrent,
unharmed and infallible, while Creation descended, in twos.

Ben Belitt

Ben Belitt, “Second Adam” from The Enemy Joy (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1964). Source: Poetry (January 1964).

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Blogger Paul Pincus said...

fantastic post.

19 September, 2008 11:55  
Blogger willow said...

Fun! I think I've seen that last illustration before. Is it a children's book? I may have had it as a child.

19 September, 2008 13:00  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

thank you paul, and welcome.

it's mother goose, willow. did you have this wonderful version?

19 September, 2008 14:28  
Blogger Margaret said...

What a colourful post! I loved it!

20 September, 2008 08:49  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

thank you so much, margaret. i love the noah colors.

21 September, 2008 10:32  

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