Posts Tagged ‘Japanese landscape’

“White Cranes of Heaven”

January 11, 2010

Sometimes you get a lovely gift out of the blue.   This weekend was an example.   I went to my favorite junk store, just to escape cabin fever, and found a beautiful print.  I am not sure the painter, but it looks like an early Japanese work. It seems 18th  century to me, but I still am searching for the painter.

I have sent the pix of this rather long print to friends and we have come up with some names: Hokusai, Utamaro, Koson, Koitsu, Kunsai, and a few others.  None of us know the piece, but it is so lovely it’s sure to be well known.  I’m not sure it’s a woodblock process made from a painting, or just a print of a painting, because the process is long and complex and it’s hard without really knowing what you are looking at.

In any case, this is a marvelous gift for a couple of reasons….plus I could afford it.

A couple of months ago I started to compile a lot of poetry.  I wanted to publish a small volume of nothing but poetry.  The title flew into my head and I couldn’t get it out.  Ok.  I would work around it. But since it was so visual, I knew  there had to be a cover that fit the title.  I did a search on white cranes, etc. and nothing really fit. At least to my mind.  I am a painter and thought, well, this is a case where I am going to have to paint my own cover.

Fate, as my friend Bill Penrose said, intervened.  This beautiful piece was sitting there in the junk shop, rather dirty, the glazing smeared with something, but I walked by it and my heart just stopped.  There, without effort….was the cover for the poetry book.

I brought it home and just couldn’t believe it.  It was perfect.  I took it out of it’s very good frame (the previous owner went to a lot of expense for the frame, and the print itself was a good one…and 6 inches longer than I thought…more cranes!) and cleaned it carefully.  The print was excellent, the matting very good, and the frame was….well, appropriate for the subject.  It’s about 40 years old in style…but works fine for the print.  I would have had something else, but tant pis.

I was chortling as I looked at the piece.  Just last week I wrote a short poem of the title: “White Cranes …..”  and the print expressed exactly what the poem was going for.  This poem below is just the first pass through.  It will change with thought and revision.

My gratitude to some friends who joined me in the research and pointed out sites to go to: Berowne especially who is very wise in these things.  Thanks, Berowne.

Sometimes life is a mystery.  Other times….well, life works with you very well and throws you cookies.

Lady Nyo


White Cranes of Heaven,

Rancorous, quarrelsome birds

Flee a sallow, saddened earth–

Wintertime’s fierce grip does not

Allow for much mercy.

They fall into ranks,

Set their GPS

And ride the chilled thermals

Until they disappear like smoke.

Only their chiding cries

Remind us they were not ghosts.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2009

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