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Calligraphy of a Poem

Early 17th century
Hon'ami Kōetsu, Japanese, 1558 - 1637
This shikishi is among the small number of poem cards with a verse from the Wakan roeishü (Collection of Japanese and Chinese Poems to Sing). Koetsu chose most of the verses from this anthology for the handscrolls he executed after he moved to Takagamine in 1615. In this example, the choice of the poem not only foreshadows Koetsu's later years, but the lines of the calligraphy exhibit some shakiness, indicating that it was brushed after Koetsu began to suffer from slight palsy.

   A mountain temple
Evening and the sunset bell,
   Whose every voicing
Vibrates with a message sad to hear:
"Today too is over, dusk has come."
Wakan roeishü 585
Author unknown

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Object Details

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