March 12, 2010

Poetry Friday--Almost Spring

I periodically spend several hours at a stretch looking through the Library of Congress's online collection of ukiyo-e woodcut prints. There are some delightful depictions of old Japan to be found amongst the thousands of pictures. The collection is a true treasure and one that can provide inspiration for a writer.

Here's the definition and etymology of ukiyo-e from
a genre style of painting and printmaking developed in Japan from the 17th to the 19th centuries and marked by the depiction of the leisure activities of ordinary people.

1895–1900; < Japn, equiv. to uki-yo transitory world (uki float + yo world) + (w)e picture (perh. < MChin; cf. Chin huĂ )
"Transitory world"--an interesting phrase. It's ironic that the art has preserved the transitory for generations, and possibly forever!

The spring-like weather we had earlier in the week has been replaced by cold and rain. In other words, a gloominess has settled back over New Hampshire. The wait for spring is sometimes difficult, yet being creative takes some of the edge off of it.

The print below is entitled Yanagi ni karasu--"crow on a willow branch." It's from an illustrated book produced between 1868 and 1900. With its blacks and grays, it captures the feeling of today's New Hampshire weather. The unopened willow buds suggest the setting is the early spring, yet, the crow looks quite content. I combined the picture with a haiku to create this haiga.

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved

Stop by Becky's Book Reviews for this week's Poetry Friday Round-Up.


  1. Diane,

    Wow, thanks for sharing such a wonderful resource for woodcuts prints!

    Also, an very appropriate haiku.

    who is anxiously awaiting warm weather

  2. Perfect! You captured the dreary moment that is today.

    Thanks, Diane.


  3. Great haiku, Diane. That's exactly how I feel. Reading a book of May Swenson's poems with wonderful woodcuts by illustrator Christy Hale. It seems like a medium well-suited for poetry.

  4. How cool, Diane -- love the way you've used this old image to express your very-today feeling! Thanks for sharing this.