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The Kojiki, translated by Basil Hall Chamberlain, [1919], at


Again the Heavenly Sovereign begged for his younger half-sister Queen Medori, using as middle-man his younger brother King Haya-busa-wake. Then Queen Medori [281] spoke to King Hayabusa-wake, saying: "Owing to the

p. 350

violence of the Empress, [the Heavenly Sovereign] has not deigned to take Yata-no-waki-iratsume [into the Palace.] So I will not respectfully serve him. I will become the wife of Thine Augustness." Forthwith they wedded each other, wherefore King Hayabusa-wake made no report [to the Heavenly Sovereign. 1] Then the Heavenly Sovereign, going straight to the place where Queen Medori dwelt, stood on the door-sill of the palace. Hereupon, Queen Medori being at her loom, was weaving garments. Then the Heavenly Sovereign sang saying:

"Oh! for whom may be the garments that my Great Lady Medori weaves?" 2

Queen Medori replied in a Song saying:

"For an august veil for the high-going Falcon-Lord." 3

So the Heavenly Sovereign, perceiving her feelings, returned into the palace. At this time 4 when her husband King Hayabusa-wake came, his wife Queen Medori sang, saying:

"The lark flies to heaven. Oh! high-going Falcon-Lord, catch the wren." 5

[282] The Heavenly Sovereign, hearing this Song, 6 forthwith raised an army, wishing to slay King Hayabusa and Queen Medori, who then fled away together, and ascended Mount Kurahashi. 7 Thereupon King Hayabusa-wake sang, saying:

"Owing to the steepness of ladder-like Mount Kurahashi, being unable to clamber [up] the rocks, oh! she takes my hand! 8

Again he sang, saying:

"Though ladder-like Mount Kurahashi be p. 351 steep, it is not steep when I ascend it with my younger sister."

So when they fled thence, and reached Soni in Uda, 9 the Imperials 10 army pursued, overtook, and slew them.


350:1 p. 351 Scil. of the success of his mediation.

350:2 Or, "for whom is the loom [employed], with which my Great Lady Medori weaves?"—The word hata in Archaic Japanese signifies both "garment" and the instrument which is used to weave a garment, i.e. a "loom" ( and ). In later times the second meaning has prevailed to the exclusion of the first.

350:3 There is here a play on the name of the Queen's paramour Hayabusa-wake, which signifies "Falcon-Lord" as in the translation—The parallel passage of the "Chronicles" gives these two Songs as a single one which is put into the mouth of Queen Medori's handmaidens,—is a more acceptable version of the incident.

350:4 Motowori suspects that there is here an error in the text, which should, according to him, read: "After this."

350:5 The gist of this Song is an instigation to murder the Emperor (whose name was Oho-sazaki, i.e., "Great Wren." Conf. Sect. CIV, Note 18), addressed to the singer's husband (whose name was Hayabusa-wake, i.e., "Falcon Lord"). But the allusion to the lake remains obscure. Keichiū suggests that it is simply mentioned as a term of comparison for the falcon's power of flight, while Motowori opines that the meaning rather is: "The lark flies so high up to heaven that it would be hard to catch it; but the wren is an easy prey."

350:6 Viz., as may be supposed, repeated by some fourth person.

350:7 Kurahashi-yama, in Yamato.

350:8 The Song, like the next, is too clear to stand in need of explanation. "Ladder-like" is an attempt to render the force of the Pillow-Word hashi-tate. See Mabuchi's "Dictionary of Pillow-Words," s.v., for the exact force attributed to it by Mabuchi.

351:9 For Uda see Sect. XLVI, Note, 14. The etymology of Soni is equally obscure.

351:10 The character , though read by the commentators with the usual Japanese Honorific mi, "august," has here its proper Chinese signification of "Imperial."

Next: Section CXXVII.—Emperor Nin-toku (Part VIII.—Queen Medori's Armlet)