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Friday 22 June 2012

Buson: The fox


Studies of a Fox
: Pieter Boel, 1669-71, oil on canvas, 53 x 65 cm (Musée du Louvre, Paris)

......The fox
Changes himself into a young prince;
......The spring evening.

Buson (1716-1783): The fox, translated by R. H. Blyth in Haiku, Volume I: Eastern Culture, 1947


ACravan said...

The best, absolutely. Curtis

Conrad DiDiodato said...

The fox--
as the leaves twitch at dawn

TC said...


Remarkable the ability of Pieter Boel to capture the alertness and presence of the fox. There is the nagging question of whether his models were alive at the time he painted them. There are always the nagging questions.

Boel was a pupil of Fyt and Fyt in turn was mentored by Snyders, so that the tradition of Flemish animal painting is formidable. But nothing in the tradition is quite up to Boel's Fox, I reckon.

ACravan said...

"Studies" pages are, apart from other qualities they might have, always really enjoyable to view, so much like being in the room with the artist and looking over his shoulder. These are really splendid. Curtis

TC said...

I do love the transformational quality in the Buson, the princely emerging from the "animalian" in such a mysteriously appropriate way as to instruct us it was hid there all along, merely missed by us.

Anonymous said...

"the spring evening" that!

Hazen said...

That fox of a prince, ready to step out on a lovely spring evening.

Yes, just where did Boel find his models? Provided by hunters perhaps? But the foxes’ eyes in his studies seem too alive for that. From silent, stock-still observation in vivo? Only El Zorro knows.

TC said...

The pleasant spring evening of the princely fox apparition -- we are still awaiting that. Here on a late June El Norte morning that could more easily pass for February.

Hazen, we too were caught by the liveliness of the eyes. Whether captured from life or captured from imagination, there is certainly a striking capture at work. With a fugitive nocturnal creature like the fox, any capture would seem a challenge. Without the hounds and the guns and traps, that is.

Susan Kay Anderson said...

We are under his spell
even when the rain
has erased shadows
the clouds left.



You'll be glad to know the foxes are around here these days, one sees them now and then crossing the lagoon road, always on the move. Meanwhile,
it's always a pleasure to find your R. H. Blythe selections -- Buson's fox a quick change artist, somehow brings to mind

Love is dead in us
if we forget
the virtues of an amulet
and quick surprise


light coming into fog against invisible
ridge, song sparrow calling from branch
in foreground, sound of wave in channel

what is present unconcealed,
separate from “thing”

note-by-note, “today, today”
most of all that here

grey white of fog against top of ridge,
shadowed green pine on tip of sandspit

Anonymous said...

Such an interesting choice to have only one fox fully bodied. The contrast is stark -- two of the foxes look to the one centered, another looks ahead, pensive but not frightened. They all seem to trust the Prince -- the defiantly centered one, in a posture not of aggression or pure defense, but one that tells you not a step further.

And, yes, the intrusion of "the spring evening" -- that is wonderful.

Susan Kay Anderson said...

Late June
I brush the fox's pelt
in the rain
having walked
through the raspberries
yet again
to go see
It seems to be
Justin Bieber
the same song
over and over.

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Kitsune, in Japanese culture, the fox has a close cousin in America, I believe: the Trickster, shape-shifting Coyote.

Beautiful Blyth translation.


TC said...

Brad, someone has speculated that Pieter Boel was studying just the one fox, more than once.

Steve, I thought of that same RC trickster poem too. Indeed almost put it up with a one-eyed fox. But the fox looked too, too sad. The closed eye probably from rabies.

Susan, lying abed with a battering ram, er I mean headache, I was idly wondering what the weather might be like in Medford today. Here, cold, drizzly. Good for night predators. Not many foxes to be seen in the city though. The raccoons and rats run the night, with the incredible shrinking opossum playing dead for all it's worth.

The disappearance of Justin Bieber from my perceptual orbit even before the car struck me and caused irreversible brain damage is just another of the common joys life offers up for daily celebration.

I don't know what a bilingual reader might say, but for me, Blyth
is the man who made the spirit of haiku exist in English.

Don, here is one of Hiroshige's 100 Views of Edo: "Fox Fires on New Year's Eve at the Garment Nettle Tree at Oji," one of the last of the woodblock prints in the series. "It depicts a Japanese legend that at the Shinto Oji shrine, there is an old tree (the 'Garment Nettle Tree') at which all the trickster fox spirits (kitsune) of that province gather once a year at night, bearing torches to light their way; at the meeting they receive their orders for the up-coming year."

Anonymous said...

Tom, one wonders all our perspectival studies, our perception in general, are conducted similarly -- singular objects, seen multiple times.

Susan Kay Anderson said...

Medford (well, they do say Deadford) is probably bakingly hot as usual--I am a bit further north (two hours) of there, in Sutherlin. The small valley of the Kalapuya River and the larger Umpqua River. It is drizzling hard in the land of Big Timber and wet hay bales out in the fields. The rain surprised. Usually, everything begins drying up and turns gold-brown by now and looks a little like California because of the oaks, hawks, vultures, and deer. Starlings hog the bird bath. The little American Goldfinches are braving the drizzle to get sunflower seeds.

Anonymous said...

Oftentimes the adult foxes are killed leaving a litter of cubs which in the rearing process become tame enough to be pets or perhaps artists' models??

My late mother was offered a cub as a pet in such a way Much though she wanted to have the fox in the end she just couldn't bring herself to have captive what she considered to be a wild animal

vazambam (Vassilis Zambaras) said...

Homo necans

The fox,
The fox,

Who shall out-
Fox the fox?

A pox on him
And all

His bloody brooding
Foxy brood.

Issa's Untidy Hut said...


Thanks for the beautiful Hiroshige - just back from 4 days in the woods and though there were no foxes seen by me (perhaps, although, I might have been seen), a boy can dream, can't he?