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Mount Fuji
Waterlilies 34.  View from Inume Pass in Kai Province

Data dropout, pixels with no clue,

A heavy mist sets in, or ground fog--

Between us and it, a mile or two of steam

From the lake or gorge below--

Even these ridge-climbers cannot see,

As they pick the solid path, next to

The steep ravine, carrying paper,

Inkstones, radishes, and yukata cloth

For sale on the far side. All day

These travelers have seen it growing,

Lost in the region of cold cloud,

Emerging now, close enough to touch,

But out of reach, like the peak they never

Quite achieve--walruslike, the small hills

Unfold ahead, rising even higher.

These traders are too tired to care,

Tugging their horses, and the walkers, up front,

Just keep going. No tourism here.

The image is complete in back, and front--

The magic is in the middle.

Hokusai uses distance as his excuse

For making a simple set of layers

Add up, except where the tree just accidentally

Intervenes, white on blue on brown and green--

The purified shape, and the simplified detail,

Combining to make the image memorable,

For us, if not these passers by, who just

Mumble, "Today you could see the treeline,

When we went up this morning, ate at the top

Of the pass, and got in before dark,

A whole day being watched by Mount Fuji."

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Copyright 1998-1999 Jonathan Price, The Communication Circle
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