November 12, 2012

Persimmons, A Painting, A Poem

My mother slipped two Fuyu persimmons into my lunch bag yesterday, a very welcome gift. They are one of my favorite fruits, whose crisp floral sweetness is a rare treat for me. They are also very beautiful in their rich, warm color, and their elegantly shaped, symmetrical leaves.

Mu Ch'i, Six Persimmons, 13th century; ink on paper

This perfect, fresh painting, as alive now as it was when painted hundreds of years ago, inspired a poem by Gary Snyder, "Mu Ch'i's Persimmons":

There is no remedy for satisfying hunger other than a painted rice cake. ––Dogen, November, 1242

On a back wall down the hall

lit by a side glass door

is the scroll of Mu Ch'i's great
sumi panting, "Persimmons"

The wind-weights hanging from the
axles hold it still.

The best in the world, I say,
of persimmons.

Perfect statement of emptiness
no other than form

the twig and the stalk still on,
the way they sell them in the
market even now.

The original's in Kyoto at a
lovely Rinzai temple where they
show it once a year

this one's a perfect copy from Benrido
I chose the mounting elements myself
with the advice of the mounter

I hang it every fall.

And now, to these overripe persimmons
from Mike and Barbara's orchard.
Napkin in hand,
I bend over the sink
such the sweet orange goop
that's how I like it
gripping a little twig

those painted persimmons

sure cure hunger


  1. This is one of my favorite paintings and thanks for the poem. Your opening words remind me of a poem by William Carlos Williams, "This Is Just to Say." To my ears your words as poem would read:

    My mother slipped
    two Fuyu persimmons
    into my lunch bag yesterday
    a welcome gift.

    They are one of my favorites
    whose crisp floral sweetness
    is a rare treat.

    1. Oh, Joan, I love William Carlos Williams' simple poems, like that marvelous one about the plums in the icebox. Thanks for making my words into a poem (your edits are perfect); it's a lovely gift too.

  2. My pleasure Altoon — a way to say "thank you" for your thoughtful visual and verbal posts and perceptions.

  3. They hardly look real in your photo. The contrast of the flowery leaves all silver sage striations and almost papery in their crispness next to the smooth shiny curve of the fruit. Too beautiful to be true.

  4. Thank you (as always) for sharing! The fruit, poetry and painting are all PERFECT on this crisp autumn day...........

  5. Thanks for your comments, Ms. Wis. and Jacquelynn. The persimmons do seem to be a work of art in themselves, a perfect color for late fall.