japonisme: 3/23/08 - 3/30/08

27 March 2008



I WANDERED lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed -- and gazed -- but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

Wordsworth 1804

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25 March 2008

my naked lady

my naked lady framed

in twilight is an accident

whose niceness betters easily the intent

of genius—

painting wholly feels ashamed

before this music,and poetry cannot

go near because perfectly fearful.

meanwhile these speak her wonderful

But i(having in my arms caught

the picture)hurry it slowly

to my mouth,taste the accurate demure


rhythm of


laziness. Eat the price

of an imaginable gesture

exact warm unholy

e. e. cummings

at the turn of the last century, as we've said, influences went in both directions. as the japanese artists began to emulate western art (some say 'worship it'), learning to represent shadows, reflections, perspective, etc., other more subtle changes were happening as well.

subtle lines and shadows around the eyes made the communication of emotion much more accessible. the presentation of a single woman in a seemingly solitary place also allowed them lit in a more human light. and they were, occasionally, nude.

son of a great samurai, hashiguchi goyo (often simply referred to as goyo) was an artist from a very young age. with support from his family, he began his studies in art -- both western and traditional japanese.

born in 1880, goyo quickly found work as an illustrator; he designed the cover and some illustrations for the first edition of natsume soseki's 'i am a cat.' interestingly, what really jump-started his career as a commercial and fine artist was his winning of a poster contest for a local department store. (as we've seen before!)

this led to his making a connection with the publisher watanabe, which led to his wider exposure as a fine-arts printmaker. his talent and thus his reputation skyrocketed, or would have if he had lived.

after the publication of only 14 woodblock prints during his lifetime (and about that many additional after his death), goyo died in 1921 of meningitis. but his embrace of new forms (even art nouveau!) lives with and inspires us still.

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23 March 2008

versions of rilke -- from 'the book of hours'

Ich finde dich in allen diesen Dingen,
denen ich gut und wie ein Bruder bin;
als Samen sonnst du dich in den geringen
und in den großen giebst du groß dich hin.

Das ist das wundersame Spiel der Kräfte,
dass sie so dienend durch die Dinge gehn:
in Wurzeln wachsend, schwindend in die Schäfte
und in den Wipfeln wie ein Auferstehn.

(the original german)

I find you in all these things of the world
that I love calmly, like a brother;
in things no one cares for you brood like a seed;
and to powerful things you give an immense power.

Strength plays such a marvelous game --
it moves through the things of the world like a servant,
groping out in roots, tapering in trunks,
and in the treetops like a rising from the dead.

(robert bly translation)

In all these thing I cherish as a brother
still it is you I find; seedlike you wait,
basking serenely in the narrowest compass,
and greatly give yourself in what is great.

This is the marvel of the play of forces,
that they so serve the things where
through they flow: growing in roots, to dwindle in the tree-trunks,
and in the crowns like resurrection show.

(babette deutsch translation)

I find you there
in all these things
I care for like a brother.
A seed, you nestle in the smallest of them,
and in the huge ones spread yourself hugely.

Such is the amazing play
of the powers:
they who give themselves
so willingly,
swelling in the roots, thinning as the trunks rise,
and in the high leaves, resurrection.

(anita barrows, joanna macy translation)

i see you in all
these things

that i love like my own brother:
the lowly, for whom you are the seed,
the grand
whom you crown.

such is the marvel of your power,
freely to each
as she needs:

thickening her roots,
rising through her trunk,

and from her leaves, resurrection.

(my own attempt, as i really hate the one remaining that i could put my hands on, and because i think this really is the song of spring and i don't know that the truest essence is captured yet. care to try?)

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