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24. View from Hodogaya on Tokaido Highway
Like a decorated curtain, the trees
Arise between us and the smutzig lake,
Isolating the performers here in front of us,
Each trunk a module in the rhythm
Of the open road to the far north--
How personal each traveler is, uniquely
Bending to look in his or her own way:
Introspective, worshipful, itchy, awed, or
Indifferent; even the horse has his own idea.
Inside the palanquin, the baby sleeps.
Terraces hold back the tumbling dirt,
Resisting the temptation to become pure cliff--
Hokusai relished these neat divisions,
Daring to make the trail so pure that
No rock sticks in the shoe, smoothing
The lake or sea like wood veneer,
Painting sky in three broad bands--
These restraining walls separate and emphasize,
Making multiple stage sets, and yet,
By stretching from east to west,
The baseline, and these quivering pedestrians
Raise the melody against.
Flip flop, and the background swells,
Like a chorus overwhelming the soloists,
Turning the troubadours to shrubbery,
An irritating distraction. We sweep
Here, we are too far to hear the stones
Grumble under current, and click.
Struggling to resist, our eyes move across,
Then up, investigating the reversal--
Dark blue below white, poking up into
The light blue heaven, surmounted
Of this mirror, the slope, reflecting
A surprise inside, a central secret.
Absorbing silence, the far hills
Sit greenly dreaming
Of being a butterfly, no, a human,
Anything that can flutter up to become,
In that clean cold air, the crescendo,
The finale, the grace note of life--Mount Fuji.
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