Poem by Kiyowara no Fukayabu with Design of Wisteria
Calligraphy by Hon'ami Kōetsu (Japanese, 1558–1637)
Edo period (1615–1868)
early 17th century
Poem card (shikishi) mounted as a hanging scroll; ink on paper with mica
Image: 7 13/16 x 6 3/4 in. (19.9 x 17.2 cm) Overall: 50 3/8 x 16 1/4 in. (128 x 41.2 cm)
Collection of Sylvan Barnet and William Burto
Not on view
Koishinaba ta ga na wa tataji yo no naka no tsune naki mono to ii wa nasu to mo
If I die of a broken heart, no other name than yours will be raised in blame, but no doubt you’ll just say, “That’s life: nothing lasts forever.”
—Trans. John T. Carpenter
Note that the poem is inscribed using the “scattered writing” (chirashigaki) technique, so it begins at the middle with the boldly brushed characters making up the phrase koishinaba (literally, “to die from love”). The column to the left is read next, and then the reader must move to the far right to read the final lines.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Designing Nature: The Rinpa Aesthetic in Japanese Art," May 26, 2012–January 13, 2013.