Japanese Poetry


Because fog engulfs
The house where I am
I feel as though
I have floated into the sky
Myoe d.1232
Ahh – solitude.
It is not the sort of thing that has one colour.
A hillside cloaked in dark pines
On an autumn evening.
Monk Jakuren, d.1202
All through the night
We kept the firewood burning
In my humble hut
And the words that we exchanged
I never shall forget
Yamamoto Ryokan d.1831
Clouds now and then
Give a soul respite
From gazing at the moon
Matsuo Basho d.1694

I have become fascinated by short Japanese poems. They’re about as visual as language gets and as intellectually and emotionally intense as a stock cube. I started painting them because I had always intended to move beyond simply painting what was in front of me and they gave me a good opportunity to find a methodology while also providing a bridge between verbal and visual thinking which has been critical to my current work. I will go back and make more as I loved doing them and there are some achingly beautiful translations out there to work with.