Temple's TangleWave Art Gallery


Nun, acrylic on linen, 32"x22" © 1993 (private collection)

Several years after I completed this painting, I found the following in The Sacred Tree chapter of The Tale of Genji:

Looking about him at these melancholy precincts, Genji was at first unable to speak. They had become in every way a nunnery: the blinds and curtains, all a drab gray-green, glimpses of gray and yellow sleeves--melancholy and at the same time quietly, mysteriously beautiful. He looked out into the garden. The ice was melting from the brook and the pond, and the willow on the bank, as if it alone were advancing boldly into spring, had already sent out shoots. "Uncommonly elegant fisherfolk,"* he whispered, himself an uncommonly handsome figure.

"Briny my sleeves at the pines of Urashima
As those of the fisherfolk who take the sea grass."

Her reply was faint and low, from very near at hand, for the chapel was small and crowded with holy objects:

"How strange that waves yet come to Urashima
When all the things of old have gone their way."

He tried not to weep. He would have preferred not to show his tears to nuns who had awakened to the folly of human afairs.

The Tale of Genji, Murasaki Shikibu [trans; Edward G. Seidensticker]
* Ama means both "fisherman" and "nun." The pun is repeated in Genji's poem.

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