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^''i A*©- ^oi 

^S? ^4? li? 






dtie Kiteri^ilie ^it0 Cambribge 






Published April igij 

Seki wa yoi toko, 
Asahi wo ukete ; 
O-Yama arashlga 
Soyo-soyoto ! 

Song of Mionoseki. 

[Seki is a goodly place ^ facing the morning sun. T'here, from 
the holy mountains^ the winds blow softly ^ softly^ — soyo- 


Scattered through the pages of Lafcadio Mearri s writ' 
ings are many 'Japanese lyrics. So graceful are these little 
poems y so characteristic , in their swift , sure impressionism^ 
of Oriental art, that it has seemed worth while to bring 
them together within the compass of a single volume. 

It is perhaps unnecessary to analyze here the distinctive 
features of Japanese poetry. The reader will understand 
that as the poets relied for their effect largely upon the oppor- 
tunities for subtle and intricate double meanings afforded by 
the peculiar structure of the Japanese language , it is scarcely 
possible to do them justice in an alien tongue. But these 
translations, though faithful to the original, have the innate 
feeling for beauty, the instinctive sense of the right word, 
the perfect phrase, common to everything that came from 
HearrHs pen. 

To preserve the volume from the appearance of undue 
weightiness the interpretive notes with which the poems are 
accompanied have been reduced to the smallest possible com- 
pass. Indeed, in many cases the elaborate plays upon words 
are too involved to be susceptible of explanation. 

In their limitation of a poem to the presentation of a 



single impression and in their ability to present that impres- 
sion with the utmost vividness and with the sternest economy 
of words y these ^Japanese poets are strangely akin to the 
Imagists, the youngest of the modern schools. And for 
this reason it has seemed peculiarly appropriate that their 
work should be included in the New Poetry Series. 


Insect Poems i 

Lullabies and Children's Verse ii 

Love Songs and Lyrics 21 

Goblin Poetry 29 

The River of Heaven 55 

Notes 8i 




Haori sugata no 

Kocho kana ! 

Torisashi no 

Sao no jama suru, 

Kocho kana ! 

Tsurigane ni 

Tomarite nemuru 

Kocho kana! 


Neru-uchi mo 
Asobu-yume wo ya — 
Kusa no cho! 

Oki, oki yo! 
Waga tomo ni sen, 
Neru-kocho ! 

Kago no tori 
Cho wo urayamu 
Metsuki kana! 

Cho tonde — 
Kaze naki hi to mo 
Miezari ki! 

[ 2 ] 


Like a woman slipping off her haori"^ — that 
is the appearance of a butterfly. 

Ah, the butterfly keeps getting in the way of 
the bird-catcher's pole I 

Perched upon the temple-belly the butterfly 

Even while sleeping, its dream is of play 
ah, the butterfly of the grass I 

Wake up ! wake up! — / will make thee my 
comrade, thou sleeping butterfly. 

Ah, the sad expression in the eyes of that caged i 
bird! — envying the butterfly ! 

Even though it did not appear to be a windy 
day, the fluttering of the butterflies — / 



Rakkwa eda ni 
Kaeru to mireba — 
Kocho kana! 

Chiru-hana ni — 
Karusa arasoii 
Kocho kana ! 

Chocho ya ! 
Onna no michi no 
Ato ya saki! 

Chocho ya! 
Hana-nusubito wo 
Tsukete-yuku ! 

Aki no cho 
Tomo nakereba ya; 
Hito ni tsuku. 

Owarete mo, 
Isoganu furi no 
Chocho kana ! 

Ch5 wa mina 
Jiu-shichi-hachi no 
Sugata kana! 



When I saw the fallen flower return to the 
branch — lo ! it was only a butterfly!^ 

How the butterfly strives to compete in light- 
ness with the falling flowers I 

See that butterfly on the woman! s path^ — now 
fluttering behind her, now before I 

Ha I the butterfly ! — it is following the person ^' 
who stole the flowers ! 

\ Poor autumn butterfly I — when left without "^ 

a comrade, it follows after man I 

\ Ah, the butterfly ! Even when chased ^ it never 

has the air of being in a hurry, 

f As for butterflies, they all have the appear- 

ance of being about seventeen or eighteen years old? 



Cho tobu ya — 
Kono yo no urami 
Naki yo ni! 

Cho tobu ya, 
Kono yo ni nozomi 
Nai yo ni! 

Nami no hana ni 
Tomari kanetaru, 
Kocho kana ! 

Mutsumashi ya! — 
Nobe no cho. 


Nadeshiko ni 

Chocho shiroshi — 

Tare no kon? 

Ichi-nichi no 
Tsuma to miekeri — 
Cho futatsu. 

Kite wa maii, 

Futari shidzuka no 

Kocho kana! 



How the butterfly sports, — just as if there 
were no enmity in this world! 

Ah, the butterfly! — it sports about as if it 
had nothing more to desire in this present state of 

Having found it difficult indeed to perch upon 
the lyfoam-^ blossoms of the waves, — alas for the ^ 
butterfly ! 

If [in our next existence) we be reborn as but- 
terflies upon the moor, then perchance we may be 
happy together! 

On the pink-flower there is a white butterfly : 
whose spirit, I wonder ? 

The one-day wife has at last appeared — a 
pair of butterflies ! 

Approaching they dance; but when the two 
meet at last they are very quiet, the butterflies! 



Cho wo ou 
Itsumademo ! 


Yuku e naki: 
Ari no sumai ya ! 
Go-getsu ame. 

Hito koe wa. 
Tsuki ga naitaka 
Hototogisu ! 


Nakitsuru kata wo 

Nagamureba, — 
Tada ariake no 
Tsuki zo nokoreru. 


Chi ni naku koe wa 

Ariake no 

Tsuki yori hokani 
Kiku hito mo nashi. 



Would that I might airways have the desire of 
chasing butterflies! 

Now the poor creature has nowhere to go! . . . 
Alas for the dwellings of the ants in this rain of 
the ^Uj month! 

A solitary voice! Did the Moon cry? 'Twas 
but the hototogisu^ 

When I gaze towards the place where I heard 
the hototogisu cry, lo ! there is naught save the wan 
morning moon. 

Save only the morning moon, none heard the 
heart' s-blood cry of the hototogisu. 






O-yama no 
Usagi no ko. 
Naze mata 
O-mimi ga 
Nagai e yara ? 
Okkasan no 
O-naka ni 
Oru toku ni, 
Biwa no ha, 
Sasa no ha, 
Tabeta sona; 
Sore de 
O-mimi ga 
Nagai e sona. 

[ 12 ] 


Sleep, babjy sleep! Why are the honorable 
ears of the Child of the Hare of the honorable moun- 
tain so long ? 'T is because when he dwelt within 
her honored womb, his mamma ate the leaves of the 
loquat, the leaves of the bamboo-grass. That is why 
his honorable ears are so long. 

[ >3] 



Ikutsu ? 
"Jiu-san, — 
Sore wa mada 
Wakai yo, 
Wakai ye mo 

Akai iro no 
Obi to, 
Shiro iro no 
Obi to 

Koshi ni shanto 
Musun de. 
Uma ni yaru ? 

" lyaiya ! " 
Ushi ni yaru ? 

[ H] 


Little Lady Moon, 
How old are you ? 
" Thirteen days, — 
Thirteen and nine J' 
That is still young. 
And the reason must be 
For that bright red obiy 
So nicely tied,^ 
And that nice white girdle 
About your hips. 
Will you give it to the horse? 

''Oh, no, noT 
Will you give it to the cow ? 

''Oh, no, no!'' 

[ ^5] 


Tobi, tobi, maute mise ! 
Ashita no ba ni 
Karasu ni kakushite 
Nezumi yaru. 

Ato no karasu saki ine, 
Ware ga iye ga yakeru ken, 
Hayo inde midzu kake, 
Midzu ga nakya yarozo, 
Amattara ko ni yare, 
Ko ga nakya modose. 

Hotaru koe midzu nomasho ; 
Achi no midzu wa nigaizo ; 
Kochi no midzu wa amaizo. 

Cho-cho, ch5-cho, na no ha ni tomare ; 
Na no ha ga iyenara, te ni tomare. 

Daidaimushi, daidaimushi, tsuno chitto dashare 
Ame kaze fuku kara tsuno chitto dashare ! 

[ i6 ] 


Kite, kite, let me see you dance, and to-mor- 
row evening, when the crows do not know, I will give 
you a rat. 

O tardy crow, hasten forward! Your house 
is all on fire. Hurry to throw water upon it. If 
there be no water, I will give you. If you have too 
much, give it to your child. If you have no childy 
then give it back to me. 

Come, firefly, I will give you water to drink. 
The water of that place is bitter ; the water here is 

Butterfly, little butterfly, light upon them leaf. 
But if thou dost not like the na leaf, light, I pray 
thee, upon my hand. 

Snail, snail, put out your horns a little: it 
rains and the wind is blowing, so put out your horns ^ 
just for a little while. 

[ 17 ] 


Nichi-yuki shiraji : 

Mahi wa semu, 
Shitabe no tsukahi 

[ ^8 ] 


As he is so young, he cannot know the way. 
. . . T^othemessenger of the Underworld I will give 
a bribe y and entreat him, saying : " Do thou kindly 
take the little one upon thy back along the roadJ'^ 

[ ^9] 





Ka-mi-yo ko-no-ka-ta 
Ka-wa-ra-nu mo-no wa : 
Mi-dzu no na-ga-re to 
Ko-i no mi-chi. 

Eko suru tote 
Hotoke no mae ye 
Futari mukaite, 
Konabe date. 

Adana e-gao ni 
Mayowanu mono wa 
Ki-Butsu, — kana-Butsu, 
Ishi-botoke ! 

Asu ari to 
Omo kokoro no 

Ada-zakura : 
Yo wa ni arashi no 
Fukanu monokawa? 

Kawaru uki-yo ni 
Kawaranu mono wa 
Kawarumai to no 
Koi no michi. 

[ 22] 


Things never changed since the Time of the Gods 
The flowing of water y the Way of Love, 

"Even while praying together in front of the tablets 

Lovers find chance to murmur prayers never meant 

for the deadn 

He who was never bewitched by the charming smile 

of a woman, 
A wooden Buddha is he — a Buddha of bronze or 

stone ! 

Thinking to - morrow remains ^ thou heart's frail 

flower-of -cherry ? 
How knowest whether this night the tempest will 

not come ? 

All things change y we are told, in this world of 

change and sorrow ; 
But love's way never changes of promising never to 




Oya no iken de 
Akirameta no wo 
Mata mo rin-ye de 

Kaai, kaai to 
Naku mushi yori mo 
Nakanu hotaru ga 
Mi wo kogasu. 
Nanno ingwa de 
Jitsu naki hito ni 
Shin wo akashite, — 
Aa kuyashi ! 

Mi naran to omo 

Kokoro koso 
Wasure nu yori mo 
Omoi nari-kere. 


Hi kurureba 
Sasoeshi mono wo — 

Akanuma no 
Makomo no kure no 
Hitori-ne zo uki ! 

[ 24] 


Father and mother forbade ^ and so I gave up my 

lover; — 
Tet still, with the whirl of the Wheel^ the thought 

of him comes and goes. 

Numberless insects there are that call from dawn 

to evening. 
Crying, "/ love! I love!'' — but the Firefly's 

silent passion. 
Making its body burn, is deeper than all their longing. 
Even such is my love . . . yet I cannot think 

through what ingwa ^ 
I opened my heart — alas! — to a being not sincere ! 

To wish to be forgotten by the beloved is a 
soul-task harder far than trying not to forget, Q 

At the coming of twilight I invited him to 
return with me — / Now to sleep alone in the 
shadow of the rushes of Akanuma — ah ! what 
misery unspeakable /" ^° 



Koshi o-son gojin wo ou ; 
Ryokuju namida wo tarete rakin wo hitataru ; 
Komon hitotabi irite fukaki koto umi no gotoshi ; 
Kore yori shoro kore rojin. 

Hana ka tote koso. 

Hi wo kurase, 
Akenu ni otoru 
Akane sasuran ? 

Izuru hi no 
Honomeku iro wo 

Waga sode ni 
Tsutsumaba asu mo 
Kimiya tomaran. 

Omae shindara tera ewa yaranu ! 
Yaete konishite sake de nomu. 



Closely, closely the youthful prince now follows 
after the gem-bright maid ; — 

The tears of the fair one^fallingy have mois- 
tened all her robes. 

But the august lord, having once become en- 
amored of her — the depth of his longing is like the 
depth of the sea. 

Therefore it is only I that am left for lorn, — 
only I that am left to wander alone. 

Being on my way to pay a visit, I found that 
which I took to be a flower : therefore here I spend 
the day. . . . Why, in the time before dawn, the 
dawn-blush tint should glow — that, indeed, I know 
not. " 

If with my sleeve I hide the faint fair color 
of the dawning sun, — then, perhaps, in the morn- 
ing my lord will remain. 

Dear, shouldst thou die, grave shall hold thee 

never ! 
I thy body's ashes, mixed with wine, will drink. 




Hi tomoshite 
Kitsune no kwaseshi, 

Asobime wa — 
Izuka no uma no 
Hone ni ya aruran ! 

Kitsune-bi no 
Moyuru ni tsukete, 

Waga tama no 
Kiyuru yo nari 
Kokoro-hoso-michi ! 

Ko-ya, sore to ? 
Ayame mo wakanu 

Rikombyo : 
Izure wo tsuma to 
Hiku zo wazuraii ! 

Futatsu naki 
Inochi nagara mo 

Kakegae no 
Karada no miyuru — 
Kage no wazurai ! 

r 30 ] 


— Ah the wanton [lighting her lantern^ ! — 
so a fox-fire '^ is kindled in the time of fox-trans- 
formation! . . . Perhaps she is really nothing 
more than an old horse -bone ^^ from somewhere 
or other, . . . 

Because of that Fox-fire burning there ^ the very 
soul of me is like to be extinguished in this narrow 

Which one is this ? — which one is that ? Be- 
tween the two shapes of the Rikombyo^^ it is not 
possible to distinguish. To find out which is the real 
wife — that will be an affliction of spirit indeed! 

Two lives there certainly are not ; — never- 
theless an extra body is visible ^ by reason of the 

[31 ] 


Naga-tabi no 
Oto wo shitaite 

Mi futatsu ni 
Naru wa onna no 
Saru rikombyo. 

Miru kage mo 
Naki wazurai no 

Rikombyo, — 
Omoi no hoka ni 
Futatsu miru kage ! 

Hito ni kakushite 

Omote y deasanu 
Kage no wazurai. 

Mi wa koko ni ; 
Tama wa otoko ni 

Soine suru ; — 
Kokoro mo shiraga 
Haha ga kaiho. 

[32 ] 


Yearning after her far-journeying husband, 
the woman has thus become two bodies y by reason' of 
her ghostly sickness. 

Though [it was said that), because of her 
ghostly sickness, there was not even a shadow of her 
left to be seen, — yet, contrary to expectation, there 
are two shadows of her to be seen I 

Afflicted with the Rikombyo, she hides away 
from people in the back room, and never approaches 
the front of the house, — because of her Shadow- 

Here her body lies but her soul is far away, 
asleep in the arms of a man ; — and the white-haired 
mother, little knowing her daughter s heart, is nurs- 
ing [only the body), 

[ 33] 


Futatsu no sugata 

Misenuru wa, 
Awase-kagami no 
Kage no wazurai. 


Me wa kagami, 
Kuchi wa tarai no 

Hodo ni aku : 
Gama mo k6sho no 
Mono to koso shire. 

Hamaguri no 
Kuchi aku toki ya, 

Shinkiro ! 
Yo ni shirare ken 
Tatsu-no-miya-hime ! 

Shinkiro — 
Tatsu no miyako no 

Hinagata wo 
Shio-hi no oki ni 
Misuru hamaguri ! 



If^ when seated before her toilet-stand, she 
sees two faces reflected in her mirror, — that might 
be caused by the mirror doubling itself under the 
influence of the Shadow-Sickness .^"^ 

The eye of it, widely open, like a {round) 
mirror; the mouth of it opening like a wash-basin 
— by these things you may know that the Toad is 
a toilet article, ^^ 

When the hamaguri^'^ opens its mouth — lo I 
Shinkiro appears / . . . Then all can clearly see the 
Maiden-Princess of the Dragon-Palace. 

Lo ! in the offing at ebb-tide, the hamaguri 
makes visible the miniature image of Shinkiro — the 
Dragon- Capital I 

[ 35 ] 


Nemidare no 
Nagaki kami woba 

Chi hiro ni nobasu 
Rokuro-Kubi kana ! 

" Atama naki 
Bakemono nari'' — to 

Mite odorokan 
Onoga karada wo. 

Tsuka-no-ma ni 
Hari wo tsutawaru, 

Keta-keta warau — 
Kao no kowasa yo! 

Roku shaku no 
Byobu ni nobiru 

Mite wa, go shaku no 
Mi wo chijimi-keri ! 

[ 36 ] 


Oh / . . . Shaking loose her long hair disheveled 
by sleepy the Rokuro-Kubi '^ stretches her neck to 
the length of a thousand fathoms I 

Will not the Rokuro-Kubiy viewing with as- 
tonishment^^ her own body [left behind) cry outy 
" Ohy what a headless goblin have you become T' 

Swiftly gliding along the roof-beam^ the Ro- 
kuro-Kubi laughs with the sound of ^^ keta-keta'* 
— oh! the fearfulness of her face I 

Beholding the Rokuro-Kubi rise up above the 
six-foot screen, any five-foot person would have 
become shortened by fear, 



Yuki-Onna — 
Yoso kushi mo 

Atsu kori; 
Sasu-kogai ya 
Kori naruran. 

Honrai wa 
Ku naru mono ka, 

Yoku-yoku mireba 
Ichi-butsu mo nashi ! 

Kiete yuku e wa 

Shirayuki no 
Onna to mishi mo 
Yanagi nari-keri! 


Mite wa yasathiku, 

Matsu wo ori 
Nama-dake hishigu 
Chikara ari-keri! 

[ 38] 


As for the Snow- Woman, ^° — even her best 
comb, if I mistake not, is made of thick ice ; and 
her hair-pin, too, is probably made of ice. 

Was she, then, a delusion from the very first, 
that Snow-Woman, — a thing that vanishes into 
empty space ? When I look carefully all about me, 
not one trace of her is to be seen ! 

Having vanished at daybreak [that Snow- 
Woman), none could say whither she had gone. But 
what had seemed to be a snow-white woman became 
indeed a willow-tree I 

Though the Snow-Woman appears to sight 
slender and gentle, yet, to snap the pine-trees asunder 
and to crush the live bamboos, she must have had 



Samukesa ni 
Zotto wa suredo 

Yuki-Onna, — 
Yuki ore no naki 
Yanagi-goshi ka mo! 


Erimoto ye 
Mizu kakeraruru 

Kokochi seri, 
"Hishaku kase" cho 
Fune no kowane ni. 

Yurei ni 
Kasu-hishaku yori 

Onore ga koshi mo 
Nukeru sencho. 

Yurei wa 
Ki naru Izumi no 

Hito nagara, 
Ao-umibara ni 
Nadote itsuran ? 



Though the Snow-Woman makes one shiver 
by her coldness, — ah, the willowy grace of her form 
charms us in spite of the cold.'''' 

As if the nape of our necks had been sprin- 
kled with cold water, — so we felt while listening 
to the voice of the ship-ghost, saying: — *^ Lend me 
a dipper!'''''' 

The loins of the captain himself were knocked 
out very much more quickly than the bottom of the 
dipper that was to be given to the ghost. 

Since any ghost must be an inhabitant of the 
Yellow Springs, ""^ how should a ghost appear on the 
Blue Sea-Plain? 

[41 ] 


Sono sugata, 
Ikari wo ot'e, 

Fune no hesaki ya 
Tomomori no rei ! 

Tsumi fukaki 
Umi ni shidzumishi, 
Yurei no 
"Ukaman" tote ya ! 
Fune ni sugareru. 

Ukaman to 
Fune wo shitaeru 

Yurei wa, 
Shidzumishi hito no 
Omoi naruran. 

Sugata wa sugoki 

Yurei no, 
Kaji wo jama suru 
Fune no Tomomori. 

[42 ] 


T^hat Shape y carrying the anchor on its back, 
and following after the ship — now at the how and 
now at the stern — ah, the ghost of TomomoriJ^^ 

Crying, " Now perchance I shall be saved I " 
the ghost that sank into the deep Sea of Sin clings 
to the passing ship I ^5 

The ghosts following after our ship in their 
efforts to rise again [or, "/^ be save d''^ might per- 
haps be the [last vengeful) thoughts ^^ of drowned 

With vengeful aspect, the grisly ghost of 
Tomomori (rises) at the stern of the ship to hinder 
the play of her rudder, 



Uwo no ejiki to 

Nari ni ken ; — 
Funa-yurei mo 
Nama-kusaki kaze. 

Shiwo-hi ni wa 
Seizoroe shite, 

Ukiyo no sama wo 
Yoko ni niramitsu. 

Saikai ni 

Kora no iro mo 
Yahari aka-hata. 

Munen to mune ni 

Hasami ken ; — 
Kao mo makka ni 
Naru Heikegani. 



Having perished in the sea, [those Heike) 
would probably have become food for fishes, ( Any- 
how, whenever) the ship following ghosts (^appear), 
the wind has a smell of raw fish ! 

Marshaled [on the beach) at the ebb of the 
tide, the Heike-crabs ^^ obliquely glare at the appa^ 
rition of this miserable world. 

Though [the Heike) long ago sank and per- 
ished in the Western Sea, the Heike-crabs still dis- 
play upon their upper shells the color of the Red 

Because of the pain of defeat, claws have 
grown on their breasts, I think ; — even the faces 
of the Heike-crabs have become crimson [with anger 
and shame) . 



Mikata mina 

Ikon wo mune ni 
Hasami mochikeri. 

Tokonoma ni 
Ikeshi tachiki mo 

Taore-keri ; 
Yanari ni yama no 
Ugoku kakemono! 

Tateshi wa tazo ya? 

Kokoro ni mo 
Fushi aru hito no 
Shiwaza naruran. 

Hidayama wo 
Kiri-kite tateshi 

Saka-bashira — 
Nanno takumi no 
Shiwaza naruran? 



All the [Heike) party having been utterly 
crushedy claws have grown upon the breasts of the 
Heik'e-crabs because of the resentment in their hearts. 

Even the live tree set in the alcove has fallen 
down ; and the mountains in the hanging picture 
tremble to the quaking made by the Tanari I ^^ 

Who set the house-pillar upside-down ? Surely 
that must have been the work of a man with a knot 
in his heart J^^ 

That house-pillar hewn in the mountains of 
Hida, and thence brought here and erected upside- 
down — what carpenter s work can it be ? ^^^ 



Ue shita wo 
Chigaete tateshi 

Hashira ni wa 
Sakasama-goto no 
Urei aranan. 

Kabe ni mimi 
Arite, kike to ka? 

Sakashima ni 
Tateshi hashira ni 
Yanari suru oto! 

Uri-iye no 
Aruji wo toeba, 

Oto arite : 
Ware me ga kuchi wo 
Aku saka-bashira. 

Omoikiya ! 
Sakasa-bashira no 

Kakinishit uta mo 
Yamai ari to wa ! 



As for that house-pillar mistakenly planted 
upside-down^ it will certainly cause adversity and 


O Ears that he in the wall I ^^ listen y will ye ? 
to the groaning and the creaking of the house-post 
that was planted upside-down ! 

When I inquired for the master of the house 
that was for sale, there came to me only a strange 
sound by way of reply ^ — the sound of the upside- 
down house-post opening its eyes and mouth! (i.e. 
its knots and cracks.) 

Who could have thought it I — even the poem 
inscribed upon the pillar-tablet ^ attached to the pil- 
lar which was planted upside-down^ has taken the 
same (ghostly) sickness.'^^ 



Nanige naki 
Ishi no Jizo no 

Sugata sae, 
Yo wa osoroshiki 
Mikage to zo naki. 

Ita hitoe 
Shita wa Jigoku ni, 

Sumizome no 
Bozu no umi ni 
Deru mo ayashina ! 

Hegasan to 
Rokuji-no-fuda wo, 

Yurei mo 
Nam'mai da to 
Kazoete zo miru. 

Tada ichi no 
Kami no o-fuda wa 

Sasuga ni mo 
Norike naku to mo 
Hegashi kanekeri. 



T^ hough the stone yizo looks as if nothing 
were the matter with it, they say that at night it 
assumes an awful aspect?^ 

Since there is but the thickness of a single 
plank [between the voyager and the sea), and un- 
derneath is Hell, V is indeed a weird thing that a 
black-robed priest should rise from the sea !'^^ 

Even the ghost that would remove the charms^^ 
written with six characters actually tries to count 
them, repeating : " How many sheets are there ? " 37 

Of the august written - charms of the god 
{which were pasted upon the walls of the house) y not 
even one could by any effort be pulled off, though the 
rice-paste with which they had been fastened was 
all gone. 

[51 ] 


Yo-arashi ni 
Chishiho itadaku 

Furu tsubaki, 
Hota-hota ochiru 
Hana no nama-kubi. 


Kusa mo ki mo 
Nemureru koro no 

Sayo kaze ni, 
Mehana no ugoku 
Furu-tsubaki kana ! 

Tomoshibi no 
Kage ayashige ni 

Miyenuru wa 
Abura shiborishi 
Furu-tsubaki ka-mo? 

[ 52 ] 


When by the night-storm is shaken the blood- 
crowned and ancient tsubaki-tree,^^ then one by one 
fall the gory heads of the Jlowers, {with the sound 
of^ hota-hota! 

When even' the grass and the trees are sleep- 
ing under the faint wind of the night, — then do the 
eyes and the noses (or^^ the buds and the flowers '*) 
of the old tsubaki-tree move I 

As for (the reason why) the light of that lamp 
appears to be a Weirdness, — perhaps the oil was 
expressed from (the nuts of) the ancient tsubaki?^'^ 




The following group of poems are all from the Manyoshu^ 
or " Gathering of a Myriad Leaves/* a vast collection of 
poems composed before the middle of the eighth century. 
They represent the old classic poetry at its purest, free from 
alien influence ; and they offer us many suggestions as to 
the condition of Japanese life and thought twelve hundred 
years ago. The legend to which they refer is as follows : — 

The great god of the firmament had a lovely daughter, 
Tanabata-tsume, who passed her days in weaving garments 
for her august parent. She rejoiced in her work, and thought 
that there was no greater pleasure than the pleasure of weav- 
ing. But one day, as she sat before her loom at the door 
of her heavenly dwelling, she saw a handsome peasant lad 
pass by, leading an ox, and she fell in love with him. Her 
august father, divining her secret wish, gave her the youth 
for a husband. But the wedded lovers became too fond of 
each other, and neglected their duty to the god of the firma- 
ment ; the sound of the shuttle was no longer heard, and the 
ox wandered, unheeded, over the plains of heaven. There- 
fore the great god was displeased, and he separated the pair. 
They were sentenced to live thereafter apart, with the Celestial % 
River ^° between them ; but it was permitted them to see each 
other once a year, on the seventh night of the seventh moon. 
On that night — providing the skies be clear — the birds 
of heaven make, with their bodies and wings, a bridge over 
the stream ; and by means of that bridge the lovers can meet. 
But if there be rain, the River of Heaven rises, and becomes 
so wide that the bridge cannot be formed. So the husband 
and wife cannot always meet, even on the seventh night of 

[ 56 ] J 



the seventh month; it may happen, by reason of bad weather, 
that they cannot meet for three or four years at a time. But 
their love remains immortally young and eternally patient; 
and they continue to fulfil their respective duties each day 
without fault, — happy in their hope of being able to meet 
on the seventh night of the next seventh month. 


Ai-muki tachite, 

Waga koishi 
Kimi kimasu nari 
Himo-toki makena! 

Hisakata no 
Ama no kawase ni, 

Fune ukete, 
Koyoi ka kimi ga 

Agari kimasan ? 

Kaze kumo wa 
Futatsu no kishi ni 

Waga toho-tsuma no 
Koto zo kayowanu ! 

Tsubute ni mo 
Nage koshitsu-beki, 

Hedatereba ka mo, 
Amata sube-naki ! 



He is coming, my long-desired lord, whom I 
have been waiting to meet here, on the hanks of the 
River of Heaven. , . . The moment of loosening 
my girdle is nigh ! ^^ 

Over the Rapids of the Everlasting Heaven, 
floating in his boat, my lord will doubtless deign to 
come to me this very night. 

Though winds and clouds to either bank may 
freely come or go, between myself and my far-away 
spouse no message whatever may pass. 

To the opposite bank one might easily fling a 
pebble ; yet, being separated from him by the River 
of Heaven^ alas! to hope for a meeting (except in 
autumn^ is utterly useless, 



Aki-kaze no 
Fukinishi hi yori 

"Itsushika'' to — ; 
Waga machi koishi 
Kimi zo kimaseru. 

Ito kawa-nami wa 

Samorai gatashi — 
Chikaki kono se wo. 

Sode furaba 
Mi mo kawashitsu-beku 

Wataru sube nashi, 
Aki nishi araneba. 

KageroT no 
Honoka ni miete 

Wakarenaba ; — 
Motonaya koi'n 
Aii-toki made wa ! 



From the day that the autumn wind began to 
blow [I kept saying to myself), ^' Ah! when shall 
we meet?'' — but now my beloved, for whom I 
waited and longed, has come indeed I 

though the waters of the River of Heaven 
have not greatly risen, [yet to cross) this near 
stream and to wait upon (my lord and lover) re- 
mains impossible. 

Though she is so near that the waving of her 
{long) sleeves can be distinctly seen, yet there is no 
way to cross the stream before the season of autumn. 

When we were separated, I had seen her for 
a moment only, — and dimly as one sees a flying 
midge ; now I must vainly long for her as before, 
until time of our next meeting I 



Hikoboshi no 
Tsuma mukae-bune 

Kogizurashi, — 
Ama-no-Kawara ni 
Kiri no tateru wa. 

Kasumi tatsu 
Ama-no-Kawara ni, 

Kimi matsu to, — 
Ikayo hodo ni 
Mono-suso nurenu. 

Mi-tsu no nami oto 

Sawagu-nari : 
Waga matsu-kimi no 
Funade-surashi mo. 

Tanabata no 
Sode maku yoi np 

Akatoki wa, 
Kawase no tazu wa 
Nakazu to mo yoshi. 

[ 62 ] 


Methinks that Hikoboshi must be rowing his 
boat to meet his wife^ — for a mist [as of oar- 
spray) is rising over the course of the Heavenly 

While awaiting my lord on the misty shore 
of the River oj Heaven y the ski?'ts of my robe have 
somehow become wet. 

On the River of Heaven, at the place of the 
august ferry, the sound of the water has become 
loud: perhaps my long-awaited lord will soon be 
coming in his boat. 

As T^anabata [slumbers) with her long sleeves 
rolled up, until the reddening of the dawn, do not, 
O storks of the river-shallows, awaken her by your 



Kiri-tachi-wataru : 

Kyo, kyo, to — 
Waga matsu-koishi 
Funade-surashi ! 

Yasu no watari ni, 

Fune ukete ; — 
Waga tachi-matsu to 
Imo ni tsuge koso. 

O-sora yo 
Kayo ware sura, 

Na ga yue ni, 
Amanokawa-ji no 
Nazumite zo koshi. 

Yachihoko no 
Kami no mi-yo yori 

Tomoshi-zuma ; — 
Hito-shiri ni keri 
Tsugiteshi omoeba. 



[She sees that) a mist is spreading across the 
River of Heaven. ..." To-day, to-day,'' she 
thinks, ''my long-awaited lord will probably come 
over in his boat'' 

By the ferry of Tasu, on the River of Hea- 
ven, the boat is floating : I pray you tell my be- 
loved that I stand here and wait. 

Though I [being a Star-god) can pass freely 
to and fro, through the great sky, — yet to cross 
over the River of Heaven, for your sake, was 
weary work indeed! 

From the august Age of the God-of- Eight- 
Thousand- Spears, she had been my spouse in secret 
only ; yet now, because of my constant longing for 
her, our relation has become known to men, 

[65 ] 


Ame tsuchi to 
Wakareshi toki yo 

Onoga tsuma ; 
Shika zo te ni aru 
Aki matsu are wa. 

Waga koru 
Niho no omo wa 

Koyoi" mo ka 
Ama-no-kawara ni 
Ishi-makura makan. 

Mikomori-gusa no 

Aki-kaze ni 
Nabikafu mireba, 
Toki kitarurashi. 

Waga seko ni 
Ura-koi oreba, 

Yo-fune kogi-toyomu 
Kaji no 'to kikoyu. 

[ 66] 


From the time when heaven and earth were 
parted^ she has been my own wife ; — yet, to be with -^ 
her, I must always wait till autumn. 

With my beloved, of the ruddy-tinted cheeks, 
this night indeed will I descend into the. bed oj the 
River of Heaven, to sleep on a pillow of stone. 

When I see the water-grasses of the River of 
Heaven bend in the autumn wind [I think to f?iy- 
self) : ** The time ( for our meeting) seems to have 

come J' 

When I feel in my heart a sudden longing for 
my husband, then on the River of Heaven the sound 
of the rowing of the night-boat is heard, and the 
plash of the oar resounds. 



To-zuma to 
Tamakura kawashi 

Netaru yo wa, 
Tori-gane na naki 
Akeba aku to mo ! 

Yorozu-yo ni 
Tazusawari ite 

Ai mi-domo, 
Koi naranaku ni, 

Waga tame to, 
Tanabata-tsume no, 

Sono yado ni, 
Oreru shirotai 
Nuit ken kamo ? 

Shirakumo no 
I-ho e kakurite 

Yoi'-sarazu min 
Imo ga atari wa. 



In the night when I am reposing with my 
(now) far-away spouse, having exchanged jewel- 
pillows^^ with her, let not the cock crow, even 
though the day should dawn. 

Though for a myriad ages we should remain 
hand-in-hand and face to face, our exceeding love 
could never come to an end, ( Why then should Hea- 
ven deem it necessary to part us ?) 

The white cloth which Tanabata has woven 
for my sake, in that dwelling of hers, is now, I 
think, being made into a robe for me. 

Though she be far-away, and hidden from me 
by five hundred layers of white cloud, still shall I 
turn my gaze each night toward the dwelling-place 
of my younger sister [wife) , 



Aki sareba 
Kawagiri tateru 

Kawa ni muki-ite 
Kru yo zo oki! 

Hito-tose ni 
Nanuka no yo nomi 

Au-hito no — 
Koi mo tsuki-neba 
Sayo zo ake ni keru! 

Toshi no koi 
Koyoi tsukushite, 

Asu yori wa, 
Tsune no gotoku ya 
Waga koi oran. 

Hikoboshi to 
Tanabata-tsume to 

Koyoi" aii ; — 
Ama-no-Kawa to ni 
Nami tatsu-na yume ! 

[ 70 ] 


When autumn comes , and the river ~ mists 
spread over the Heavenly Stream^ I turn toward 
the river [and long) ; and the nights of my longing 
are many ! 

But once in the whole year, and only upon the 
seventh night [of the seventh month), to meet the 
beloved person — and lo I The day has dawned be- 
fore our mutual love could express [or *' satisfy"^ 

The love-longing of one whole year having 
ended to-night, every day from to-morrow I must ) 
again pine for him as before ! 

Hikoboshi and T anabata-tsume are to meet 
each other to-night ; — ye waves of the River of 
Heaven, take heed that ye do not rise ! 

[71 ] 


Aki-kaze no 
Fuki tadayowasu 

Shirakumo wa, 
Tanabata-tsume no 
Amatsu hire kamo ? 

Shiba-shiba mo 
Ai minu kimi wo, 

Funa-de haya seyo 
Yo no fukenu ma ni, 

Kiri taphi-watari 

Hikoboshi no 
Kaji no 'to kikoyu 
Yo no fuke-yukeba. 

Kawa 'to sayakeshi : 

Hikoboshi no 
Haya kogu fune no 
Nami no sawagi ka ? 

[ 72] 


Oh ! that white cloud driven by the autumn- 
wind — can it be the heavenly hire ^'^ ofTanabata- 
tsume ? 

Because he is my not-often-to-be-met beloved^ 
hasten to row the boat across the River of Heaven 
ere the night be advanced. 

Late in the night, a mist spreads over the 
River of Heaven ; and the sound of the oar ofHi- 
koboshi is heard. 

On the River of Heaven a sound of plashing 
can be distinctly heard: is it the sound of the rip- 
pling made by Hikoboshi quickly rowing his boat ? 

[ 73 ] 


Kono yube, 
Furikuru ame wa, 

Hikoboshi no 
Haya kogu fune no 
Kai no chiri ka mo. 

Waga tama-doko wo 

Asu yori wa 

Uchi harai, 
Kimi to inezute 
Hitori ka mo nen ! 

Kaze fukite, 
Kawa-nami tachinu ; 

Hiki-fune ni 
Watari mo kimase 
Yo no fukenu ma ni. 

Nami wa tatsutomo 

Waga fune wa 
Iza kogi iden 
Yo no fukenu ma ni. 



Perhaps this evening shower is but the spray 
{flung down) from the oar of Hikoboshi^ rowing 
his boat in haste. 

From to-morrow y alas ! after having put my 
jewel-bed in order ^ no longer reposing with my lordy 
I must sleep alone I 

The wind having risen, the waves of the river 
have become high; — this night cross over in a tow- 
boat y I pray thee, before the hour be late ! 

Even though the waves of the River of Hea- 
ven run high, I must row over quickly, before it 
becomes late in the night. 



Inishie ni 
Oriteshi hata wo ; 

Kono yube 
Koromo ni nuite — 
Kimi matsu are wo ! 

Se wo hayami ka mo ? 

Nubatama no 
Yo wa fuke ni tsutsu, 
Awanu Hikoboshi ! 

Fune haya watase ; 

Hito-tose ni 
Futatabi kayo 
Kimi naranaku ni ! 

Aki kaze no 
Fukinishi hi yori, 

Kawase ni dedachi ; — 
Matsu to tsuge koso ! 

[ 76] 


Long ago I finished weaving the material; 
andy this evenings having finished sewing the gar- 
ment for him — {why must) I still wait for my 

Is it that the current of the River of Heaven 
[has become too) rapid? The jet-black night ad- 
vances — and Hikoboshi has not come I 

Oh, ferryman, make speed across the stream ! 
— my lord is not one who can come and go twice in 
a year I 

On the very day that the autumn-wind began 
to blow, I set out for the shallows of the River of 
Heaven ; — / pray you, tell my lord that I am 
waiting here still! 

[ 11 ] 


Tanabata no 
Funanori surashi, — 

Kiyoki tsuki-yo ni 
Kumo tachi-wataru. 

[ 78] 


Methinks Tanabata must be coming in her 
boat ; for a cloud is even now 'passing across the clear 
face of the moon. 


'•'•• - •'* ' y-^ - ' ': : -JAPANESE LYRICS 

Perhaps the legend of Tanabata, as it was understood 
by those old poets ^ can make but a faint appeal to West- 
ern minds. Nevertheless, in the silence of transparent 
nights y before the rising of the moon, the charm of the an- 
cient tales sometimes descends upon me, out of the scintil- 
lant sky, — to make me forget the monstrous facts of science, 
and the stupendous horror of Space. Then I no longer be- 
hold the Milky Way as that awful Ring of the Cosmos, 
whose hundred million suns are powerless to lighten the 
Abyss, but as the very Amanogawa itself, — the River 
Celestial. I see the thrill of its shining stream, and the 
mists that hover along its verge, and the water-grasses that 
bend in the winds of autumn. White Orihime I see at her 
starry loom, and the Ox that grazes on the farther shore ; 
— and I know that the falling dew is the spray from the 
Herdsman's oar. And the heaven seems very near and 
warm and human; and the silence about me is filled with 
the dream of a love unchanging, immortal, — forever 
yearning and forever young, and forever left unsatisfied 
by the paternal wisdom of the gods. 




1. A cloak, lined usually with brightly colored silk. 

2. Alluding to the Buddhist proverb : " The fallen flower returns 
not to the branch ; the broken mirror never again reflects." 

3. That is to say, the grace of their motion makes one think of the 
grace of young girls. 

4. A creature of which weird things are told ; for it is said to be 
a night wanderer from the Land of Darkness. It cries as though 
in pain the syllables " ho-to-to-gi-su.^^ 

5. Because an obi or girdle of very bright color can be worn only 
by children. 

6. Written more than eleven hundred years ago on the death of 
the poet's little son. 

7. Literally : " Repeat prayers saying, dead-of-presence-in twain 
facing, — small-pan cooking ! " Konabe-date is an idiomatic ex- 
pression signifying a lovers' tete-a-tete, the idea suggested being 
that of the pleasure experienced by an amorous couple in eating 
out of the same dish. 

8. The Wheel of Karma, the passage from birth to birth. 

9. Deeds in a former existence. 

10. A double meaning in the third line of the original may be ren- 
dered by reading for of Akanuma — after the time of that happy 

11. The meaning intended may be expressed thus : " Being on my 
way to pay a visit, I met with a being lovely as a flower; and 



for the sake of that lovejy person, I am passing the day here. 
. . . Fair one, wherefor^ that dawn-like blush before the hour 
of dawn ? — can it mean/ that you love me ? " 

12. The Will-o'-the-Wisp is called fox-fire because the goblin-fox 
was supposed to create it. 

13. The goblin-fox deceived men by transforming an old horse-bone 
into the form of a courtesan. 

14. One afflicted with ghost-sickness. It was formerly supposed that 
the intense grief or longing of a lover caused the suffering spirit 
to create a double, one body going to join the beloved while the 
other remained at home. 

15. This suggests the ghostly sympathy said to exist between a 
mirror and the soul of its possessor. 

16. A typical play upon words. The toad was credited with super- 
natural powers and the phrase kesho-m-mono may signify goblin- 
thing as well as toilet article. 

17. A mollusk credited with the power of creating a mirage by ex- 
haling a vapor that to deluded mortals takes the form of Shin- 
kiro^ the Elf-land of Far Eastern fable. 

18. A person whose neck lengthens prodigiously during sleep, so 
that the head can wander around seeking what it may devour. 
Often the head is completely detachable. 

19. A woman may become a Rokuro-Kubi without knowing it. 

20. A beautiful phantom whose embrace is death. 

21. The original is capable of another reading suggesting that the 
grace of her form is like that of willow branches weighed down 
by snow. 

22. The spirits of the drowned are said to follow after ships calling 
for a dipper. This should be given, but first, without the 



knowledge of the spirits, the bottom must be knocked out, other- 
wise they will use it to fill and sink the ship. 

23. The Underworld of the Dead. 

24. A famous chieftain of the Heike clan lost in a great sea-fight. 
His ghost was addicted to making off with the anchors of ships 
moored in his domain. 

25. Spirits of the drowned must remain in the water until they can 
lure the living to destruction. So his exclamation really means, 
" now perchance I shall be able to achieve salvation by drown- 
ing somebody." 

26. Or " the avenging ghost." 

27. A species bearing on their upper shells wrinklings resembling the 
outlines of an angry face. They are said to be the transformed 
spirits of the defeated Heike warriors. 

28. A goblin who makes a practice of shaking houses. It may also 
mean the sound of the shaking of a house during an earthquake. 

29. A house-post must be set with the same end up as when it was 
growing. An "upside-down post" would groan in the night, 
open its cracks like mouths and its knots like eyes, and make 
itself generally a nuisance until the mistake was corrected. 

30. Or, " for what evil design can this deed have been done"? 
Takumi may signify either a carpenter or an intrigue. 

31. Literally, " upside-down-matter-sorrow," contrariety. 

32. Alluding to the proverb, " There are ears in the wall," sug- 
gesting the necessity for care even in private conversation. 

33. That is, is upside-down — all wrong. 

34. Some statues of Jiz5, the Buddhist savior of children's ghosts, 
are said to walk at night in various disguises. 

[ 8s ] 


35. The bald body and staring eyes of the cuttlefish, bearing a dis- 
torted resemblance to the shaven head of a priest, suggested to 
the Japanese the name Priest of the Sea. 

36. Japanese houses are protected against the entrance of evil spir- 
its by charms written on rice paper and pasted on the door. 

37. Or, repeating," Hail to thee, O Buddha Amitabha ! " The idea 
of counting is also suggested in this alternate reading by the 
fact that the invocation to Amitabha is usually accompanied by 
the numbering of beads on a rosary. 

38. This tree, which in its old age is supposed to be a favorite haunt 
of goblins, bears a heavy crimson flower that drops with an 
audible thud often compared with the sound of a human head 
falling under the sword. 

39. The oil used in Japanese lamps was obtained from the nuts of 
the tsubaki. 

40. The Milky Way. 

41. Lovers, ere parting, were wont to tie each other's inner girdle 
(himo) and pledge themselves to leave the knot untouched until 
the time of their next meeting. 

42. A poetical phrase signifying the use of each other's arms as 

43. Scarf. 

U . S . A 



Return to desk from which borrowed. 
This book is DUE on the last date stamped below. 




«»'^C'D LD 
MAR 141960 


jftN?. 11956 LU 

LD 21-100m-ll,'49(B7146Bl6)476