Poem by Kakinomoto no Hitomaro, from the series One Hundred Poems by One Hundred Poets Explained by an Old Nurse

Poem by Kakinomoto no Hitomaro, from the series One Hundred Poems by One Hundred Poets Explained by an Old Nurse

1835-36

Katsushika Hokusai 葛飾 北斎

(Japanese, 1760-1849)

Color woodblock print

Sheet: 25.8 x 37.8 cm (10 3/16 x 14 7/8 in.)

Bequest of Edward L. Whittemore 1930.190

Location

Description

Hokusai designed this print series from the perspective of a confused nurse attempting to illustrate classical poetry, but missing the subtle allusions. This interpretation creates a comical disconnect between poem and image. The poem reads:

The wild hill pheasants
Drag their feet and drag their tails,
Splendid though they be,
Through this long, long weary night,
Like me, laying here alone.

Considered a god among poets, Kakinomoto no Hitomaro (about 660–739) wrote of an emotionally tiring night. The nurse thought instead of the physically exhausting work of fishermen dragging a net upstream. Smoke billows across the scene, directing our attention to a figure, perhaps the nurse, in the distant house.

See also
Collection: 
Japanese Art
Department: 
Japanese Art
Type of artwork: 
Print

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