Rate this poem:(5.00 / 1 vote)

The Great Wave Off Kanagawa



Morning and the fishers put out to sea,
With joy and farewells to their families,
Unaware today, they would meet with fate,
To fight for life with a giant rogue wave.

“Bend your backs to the wind, row and repel,
Vain Kanagawa, reprieve yourselves!”
Spewed in boast the Kami Tsunami,
Amid the background of the great Mt. Fuji.

Fear seized their hearts and terror blazed their eyes:
Their hands bled and muscles groaned agony.
They who boldly bragged, coward in the throes;
As the boats were tossed on the vast ocean.

Frothed with rage, the tempest would not relent,
Incensed that they take without recompense,
The bounty of its trove with gluttony,
As if deemed chosen to exploit with greed.

The challenge met and defeat imminent,
Victory, though sweet, claims countless victims.
In disbelief, they maintained their postures,
As the wave splinters the wooden structures.

The end is near. “All is lost!” or so they thought;
On their knees, one by one, made peace with God.
And this, their last hour, they in despair;
Prayed that the storm to abate and were spared.

About this poem

Ekphrastic poem of the woodblock print of "The Great Wave off Kanagawa", (circa 1826-1833) by Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849). Although the wave in Katsushika Hokusai woodblock print, “The Great Wave off Kanagawa” is often portrayed and described as a tsunami, it is uncertain whether it was Hokusai’s intentions to have it be interpreted that way. The waves in his famous work of art can be referred to as okinami (great off-shore waves).

Font size:
 

Written on May 18, 2018

Submitted by Dennis_Spilchuk on February 11, 2022

Modified by Dennis_Spilchuk

1:03 min read
117 Views

Dennis Spilchuk

Canadian poet residing in Dryden, Northwestern Ontario. more…

All Dennis Spilchuk poems | Dennis Spilchuk Books

FAVORITE (1 fan)

Discuss this Dennis Spilchuk poem with the community:

2 Comments

Translation

Find a translation for this poem in other languages:

Select another language:

  • - Select -
  • 简体中文 (Chinese - Simplified)
  • 繁體中文 (Chinese - Traditional)
  • Español (Spanish)
  • Esperanto (Esperanto)
  • 日本語 (Japanese)
  • Português (Portuguese)
  • Deutsch (German)
  • العربية (Arabic)
  • Français (French)
  • Русский (Russian)
  • ಕನ್ನಡ (Kannada)
  • 한국어 (Korean)
  • עברית (Hebrew)
  • Gaeilge (Irish)
  • Українська (Ukrainian)
  • اردو (Urdu)
  • Magyar (Hungarian)
  • मानक हिन्दी (Hindi)
  • Indonesia (Indonesian)
  • Italiano (Italian)
  • தமிழ் (Tamil)
  • Türkçe (Turkish)
  • తెలుగు (Telugu)
  • ภาษาไทย (Thai)
  • Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese)
  • Čeština (Czech)
  • Polski (Polish)
  • Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian)
  • Românește (Romanian)
  • Nederlands (Dutch)
  • Ελληνικά (Greek)
  • Latinum (Latin)
  • Svenska (Swedish)
  • Dansk (Danish)
  • Suomi (Finnish)
  • فارسی (Persian)
  • ייִדיש (Yiddish)
  • հայերեն (Armenian)
  • Norsk (Norwegian)
  • English (English)

Citation

Use the citation below to add this poem to your bibliography:

Style:MLAChicagoAPA

"The Great Wave Off Kanagawa" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2022. Web. 2 Jul 2022. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/120093/the-great-wave-off-kanagawa>.

Become a member!

Join our community of poets and poetry lovers to share your work and offer feedback and encouragement to writers all over the world!

July 2022

Poetry Contest

Enter our monthly contest for the chance to win cash prizes and gain recognition for your talent.
29
days
1
hours
26
minutes

Browse Poetry.com

Quiz

Are you a poetry master?

»
Who was the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for poetry?
  • A. Edna St. Vincent Millay
  • B. Sara Teasdale
  • C. Edith Wharton
  • D. Mona Van Duyn