The Master-Singers of Japan, by Clara A. Walsh, , at sacred-texts.com
After the battle (naval) of Daimoura, A.D. 1185, between the Gen or Minamoto clan, under Yoshitsune, brother of the Shogun Yoritomo, and the Hei-Teira faction, the Mikado Antoku's nurse, on seeing the utter defeat of the Hei, took him, then a boy of eight, in her arms, and plunged with him into the sea, to avoid capture by the victorious Minamoto.
Note.—For the following, and for "The Bamboo Flute," I am indebted to prose versions in W. G. Aston's "Japanese Literature."
Then Niidono, the Mikado's nurse,
Seeing the hopeless fortunes of her Lord,
Flung o’er her head a sombre-coloured robe,
Under her arm placing the sacred seal
And on her thigh girding the sacred sword.
Then to her breast she clasped the child, and cried,
"Though but a feeble woman, yet no foe
Lays sullying hands on me! nor on my King!"
And calmly on the ship's side placed her foot.
Fair was his face, the Sov’reign whom she held;
Eight lovely springs above his head had passed,
His black locks clustered loosely on his neck,
And in his eyes there dawned a faint surprise.
"Whither wouldst take me, Amazé?" he cried.
Weeping, she turned and thus addressed the child:
"Dost thou not know, my Lord, that thou wert born
Ruler of full ten thousand chariots,
Since in thy previous life the Way was kept?
But now, the wheel of Fate turns back again,
And evil triumphs; thy good Fortune fails.
Turn thy august face, first towards the East,
Greeting the Shrine of Isé in farewell;
Then to the West, and call upon the Name
Buddha, the Lord of Light, All-Merciful,
Whose messengers will meet thee, as we cross
Into the blessed Regions of the West!"
Then the child tied to the Imperial robe,
Glowing with colours of the mountain dove,
His shining top-knot, tearfully he joined
His little lovely hands in simple prayer;
To Isé's shrine he turned, and Hachiman's,
Then to the West, calling on Buddha's Name.
Niidono then took him in her arms
And murmuring, "Beneath the waves there lies
Pure Land of Perfect Happiness," she sprang
From off the side, and sank in fathoms deep!
Alas! how pitiful! the winds of Spring
Scattered the beautiful, the flowery form!
Billows of severance remorseless roll
Above that gem of priceless sovereignty.
(Born A.D. 1203; died 1219)
Son of the founder of the Shogunate, Yoritomo, of the House of Minamoto. He was assassinated at an early age, descending the steps of a temple, where he had been to return thanks for an additional title conferred on him by the Mikado. His assassin was High Priest of the Temple, and his nephew.
By the Shogun Sanetomo
Though the high mountains should be rent apart,
Though dry the depths where now the deep seas roar,
Yet to my Lord I'll bear no double heart,
Still to my Prince be true for evermore!
(Written by the Shogun Sanetomo on leaving his Palace, previous to his Assassination)
If, issuing hence, I leave my dwelling-place
Untenanted—and coming days should bring
Its Lord no more, nor well-remembered face
Look on its halls, nor echoing footsteps ring—
Yet thou, loved Plum-tree, shadowing these eaves,
With boughs whose network fragile tracery weaves,
Forget not thou the Coming of the Spring!
A nobleman of the thirteenth century, who compiled the "Hyaku-nin-Tsshu," a collection of the ancient poems of Japan, which contains Tanks, from the seventh to the thirteenth centuries. Compiled about A.D. 1235
Lonely and desolate
Stretches the coast line.
Here and there thatched roofs
Of fishermen's dwellings.
Cold gleam the waters.
Nor soft hue of blossom,
Nor rich glow of maples,
To brighten the sadness—
But twilight autumnal!
By Chiyo *
(Written after the Death of her little Son)
How far, I wonder, did he stray,
Chasing the burnished dragon-fly to-day?
All things that seem to be
But in one mind exist
And have their being.
All round the rope a morning glory clings;
How can I break its beauty's dainty spell?
I beg for water from a neighbour's well,
Though all is still,
Nor one faint breath from icy mountains blown,
Yet bitter chill
The night, since thou art gone, and I alone!
Pitiful echoes the wailing,
Feeble wailing of infant,
Lonely and sad, and uncared for; p. 101
But at the stillness of midnight
Suddenly ceases its crying.
Dream-like the dead mother passes
Swift to the side of her babe,
Bends o’er it, holding it safely,
Suckles it, murmuring softly
Whispers of mother-love.
99:* Chiyo was a famous woman Hokku-writer of Kaga.