japonisme: 12/6/09 - 12/13/09

12 December 2009

roses in december

(One of Vera's first hits -- the beguiling girlishness in her voice is a charming contrast to her indomitable War performances.)

(George Jessel, Herbert Magidson, Ben Oakland, 1937.)

Roses in December, for you.
Shall I take the stars from the blue?
Or would you like the moon upon a platter?
It doesn't matter. What can I do, for you?

If you'd like the spring in the fall,
It would be no trouble at all.
Give me your love and I can make the most impossible things come true:
Blue shadows never, sunshine forever,
Roses in December for you.

"God gave us memory so that we might have roses in December"
-- James M. Barrie 1


yamabuki ni ômiyabito no usugi kana

in yellow roses
a great courtier's
thin kimono


furusato ya yoru mo sawa[ru]
mo bara no hana

the closer I get
to my village, the more pain...
wild roses

In a pre- script to this haiku Issa reports that he entered his home village on the morning of Fifth Month, 19th day, 1810. First, he paid his respects at his father's gravesite, and then he met with the village headman.

While the content of their meeting is not revealed, it plainly had to do with the matter of the poet's inheritance that his stepmother and half brother had withheld from him for years.

He goes on to write, tersely, "After seeing the village elder, entered my house. As I expected they offered me not even a cup of tea so I left there soon." In another text dated that same year, he recopies this "wild roses" haiku and signs it, mamako issa: "Issa the Stepchild."

See Issa zenshû (Nagano: Shinano Mainichi Shimbunsha, 1976-79) 3.61; 1.424. Shinji Ogawa assisted with the above translation. 2

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07 December 2009

evolution of a rose

we have looked at roses before, mackintosh, hunter, but the 20s saw some strange new develop- ments in the portrayal of flowers. they went all crazy, all wiggley, and more abstracted than ever! trace the change to mackintosh, to poiret (both of whom had stylistic ties to vienna), or the new guys, ruhlmann, brandt, or dufet? why did this happen??!!

Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose
Loveliness extreme.
Extra gaiters,
Loveliness extreme.
Sweetest ice-cream.
Pages ages page ages page ages.

Do we suppose that all she knows is that a rose is a rose is a rose is a rose.

...she would carve on the tree Rose is a Rose is a Rose is a Rose is a Rose until it went all the way around.

A rose tree may be a rose tree may be a rosy rose tree if watered.

Indeed a rose is a rose makes a pretty plate.

collected from gertrude stein 1

'Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.

What's Montague?
it is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face,
nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!

What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call'd,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name,
And for that name which is no part of thee
Take all myself.


Ruth visits her mother’s grave in
the California hills.
She knows her mother isn’t there but the rectangle of grass
marks off the place where the memories are kept,

like a library book named Dorothy.
Some of the chapters might be: Dorothy:
Better Bird-Watcher Than Cook

Dorothy, Wife and Atheist;
Passionate Recycler Dorothy,
Here Lies But Not.

In the summer hills,
where the tall tough grass

reminds you of persistence
and the endless wind
reminds you of indifference,

Ruth brings batches of
white roses,
extravagant gesture
not entirely wasteful
because as soon as she is gone she knows
the deer come out of the woods to eat them.

What was made for the eye
goes into the mouth,
thinks Ruth to herself as she drives away,
and in bed when she tries to remember her mother,

she drifts instead to the roses,
and when she thinks about
the roses she
sees instead the deer
chewing them—

pale petals of the roses in the dark
warm bellies
of the sleeping deer—
that’s what going to sleep is like.

Tony Hoagland

from What Narcissism Means to Me.
Copyright © 2003 by Tony Hoagland.

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