Old Taoist: The Life, Art, and Poetry of Kodojin (1865-1944)

Old Taoist: The Life, Art, and Poetry of Kodojin (1865-1944)

Old Taoist: The Life, Art, and Poetry of Kodojin (1865-1944)

Old Taoist: The Life, Art, and Poetry of Kodojin (1865-1944)


In the literary and artistic milieu of early modern Japan the Chinese and Japanese arts flourished side by side. Kod¿jin, the "Old Taoist" (1865-1944), was the last of these great poet-painters in Japan. Under the support of various patrons, he composed a number of Taoist-influenced Chinese and Japanese poems and did lively and delightful ink paintings, continuing the tradition of the poet-sage who devotes himself to study of the ancients, lives quietly and modestly, and creates art primarily for himself and his friends. Portraying this last representative of a tradition of gentle and refined artistry in the midst of a society that valued economic growth and national achievement above all, this beautifully illustrated book brings together 150 of Kod¿jin's Chinese poems (introduced and translated by Jonathan Chaves), more than 100 of his haiku and tanka (introduced and translated by Stephen Addiss), and many examples of his calligraphy and ink paintings. Addiss's in-depth introduction details the importance of the poet-painter tradition, outlines the life of Kod¿jin, and offers a critical appraisal of his work, while J. Thomas Rimer's essay puts the literary work of the Old Taoist in context.


Selections from Poems from the Quiet Place Mountain Studio
(Seisho sanbōshū) (1912)

Drinking Alone

Drinking alone, wine beside the flowers, spring breezes fluttering the lapels of my robe. With just this peace my desire is fulfilled, while the world's affairs leave me at odds. White haired but not yet passed on, these green mountains a good place to take my bones. Who understands that this happiness today lies simply in tranquillity of life? (poem 1, p. 1a)

Strolling South of the Town—Two Poems

Rain cleared up, butterflies in view, sunlight warm, wild flowers in bloom…. Alone I walk and see the spring all new, no friend along, yet this is joyful too!

Scattered sparsely, houses, three or four; on the wattle fence, setting-sunlight glow. Among the flowers, only chickens, dogs: the farmers now are all out at the plow. (2, 1a) . . .

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