She was obsessed. Obsessed with poetry. Obsessed with pottery. And she scratched her poetry onto her pottery. In doing so Otagaki Rengetsu put an end to the long standing separation of immaterial beauty of poetry and the material poetry of ceramics. She made them one. This was bold, particularly when it came to ceramics used in the tea ceremony, celebrating rusticity, austerity and simplicity.
And still today we sense Rengetsu’s artistic boldness in her poetic pottery and potted poetry.
along the Kamo riverbank
the moon is high—
settling on my sleeves in the deep of night
the year’s first frost.