THE PRIEST (Lord Tokiyori disguised).
TSUNEYO GENZAYEMON (a former retainer of Tokiyori).
TOKIYORI'S MINISTER, and followers.
No whence nor whither know I, only onward,
Onward my way.
I am a holy man of no fixed abode. I have been travelling through the land of Shinano; but the snow lies thick. I had best go up to Kamakura now and wait there. When Spring comes I will set out upon my pilgrimage.
(He walks round the stage singing his song of travel.)
Land of Shinano, Peak of Asama,
Thy red smoke rising far and near! Yet cold
Blows the great wind whose breath
From Greatwell Hill is fetched.
On to the Village of Friends--but friendless I,
Whose self is cast aside, go up the path
Of Parting Hill, that from the temporal world
Yet further parts me. Down the river, down
Runs my swift raft plank-nosed to Plank-nose Inn,
And to the Ford of Sano I am come.
I have travelled so fast that I am come to the Ford of Sano in the country of Kōzuke. Ara! It is snowing again. I must seek shelter here. (Goes to the wing and knocks.) Is there anyone in this house?
TSUNEYO'S WIFE (raising the curtain that divides the hashigakari from the stage).
Who is there?
I am a pilgrim; pray lodge me here to-night.
That is a small thing to ask. But since the master is away, you cannot lodge in this house.
Then I will wait here till he comes back.
That must be as you please. I will go to the corner and watch for him. When he comes I will tell him you are here.
(Enter TSUNEYO from the wing, making the gesture of one who shakes snow from his clothes.)
Ah! How the snow falls! Long ago when I was in the World 1 I loved to see it:
"Hither and thither the snow blew like feathers plucked from a goose;
Long, long I watched it fall, till it dressed me in a white coat."
So I sang; and the snow that falls now is the same that I saw then. But I indeed am frost-white 2 that watch it!
Oh how shall this thin dress of Kefu-cloth 3
Chase from my bones the winter of to-day,
Oh pitiless day of snow!
(He sees his WIFE standing waiting.)
What is this! How comes it that you are waiting here in this great storm of snow?
A pilgrim came this way and begged for a night's lodging. And when I told him you were not in the house, he asked if he might wait till you returned, That is why I am here.
Where is this pilgrim now?
There he stands!
I am he. Though the day is not far spent, how can I find my way in this great storm of snow? Pray give me shelter for the night.
That is a small thing to ask; but I have no lodging fit for you; I cannot receive you.
No, no. I do not care how poor the lodging may be. Pray let me stay here for one night.
I would gladly ask you to stay, but there is scarce space for us two, that are husband and wife. How can we give you lodging? At the village of Yamamoto yonder, ten furlongs further, you will find a good inn. You had best be on your way before the daylight goes.
So you are resolved to turn me away?
I am sorry for it, but I cannot give you lodging.
PRIEST (turning away).
Much good I got by waiting for such a fellow! I will go my way.
Alas, it is because in a former life we neglected the ordinances 1 that we are now come to ruin. And surely it will bring us ill-fortune in our next life, if we give no welcome to such a one as this! If it is by any means possible for him to shelter here, please let him stay.
If you are of that mind, why did you not speak before? (Looking after the PRIEST.) No, he cannot have gone far in this great snowstorm. I will go after him and stop him. Hie, traveller, hie! We will give you lodging. Hie! The snow is falling so thick that he cannot hear me. What a sad plight he is in. Old-fallen snow covers the way he came and snow new-fallen hides the path where he should go. Look, look! He is standing still. He is shaking the snow from his clothes; shaking, shaking. It is like that old song:
"At Sano Ferry
No shelter found we
To rest our horses,
Shake our jackets,
In the snowy twilight."
That song was made at Sano Ferry,
At the headland of Miwa on the Yamato Way.
But now at Sano on the Eastern Way
Would you wander weary in the snow of twilight?
Though mean the lodging,
Rest with us, oh rest till day!
(The PRIEST goes with them into the hut.)
TSUNEYO (to his WIFE).
Listen. We have given him lodging, but have not laid the least thing before him. Is there nothing we can give?
It happens that we have a little boiled millet; 1 we can give him that if he will take it.
I will tell him. (To the PRIEST.) I have given you lodging, but I have not yet laid anything before you. It happens that we have a little boiled millet. It is coarse food, but pray eat it if you can.
Why, that's a famous dish! Please give it me.
TSUNEYO (to WIFE).
He says he will take some; make haste and give it to him.
I will do so.
Long ago when I was in the World I knew nothing of this stuff called millet but what I read of it in poems and songs. But now it is the prop of my life.
Truly Rosei's dream of fifty years' glory
That he dreamed at Kántán on lent pillow propped
Was dreamed while millet cooked, as yonder dish now.
Oh if I might but sleep as he slept, and see in my dream
Times that have passed away, then should I have comfort;
But now through battered walls
Cold wind from the woods
Blows sleep away and the dreams of recollection.
(While the CHORUS sings these words an ATTENDANT brings on to the stage the three dwarf trees.)
How cold it is! And as the night passes, each hour the frost grows keener. If I had but fuel to light a fire with, that you might sit by it and warm yourself! Ah! I have thought of something. I have some dwarf trees. I will cut them down and make a fire of them.
Have you indeed dwarf trees?
Yes, when I was in the World I had a fine show of them; but when my trouble came I had no more heart for tree-fancying, and gave them away. But three of them, I kept,--plum, cherry and pine. Look, there they are, covered with snow. They are precious to me; yet for this night's entertainment I will gladly set light to them.
No, no, that must not be. I thank you for your kindness, but it p. 105 is likely that one day you will go back to the World again and need them for your pleasure. Indeed it is not to be thought of.
My life is like a tree the earth has covered;
I shoot no blossoms upward to the world.
And should we burn for you
These shrubs, these profitless toys,
Think them the faggots of our Master's servitude. 1
For snow falls now upon them, as it fell
When he to hermits of the cold Himalayan Hills was carrier of wood.
So let it be.
"Shall I from one who has cast life aside,
Dear life itself, withold these trivial trees?"
(TSUNEYO goes and stands by the dwarf trees.)
Then he brushed the snow from off them, and when he looked,
"I cannot, cannot," he cried, "O beautiful trees,
Must I begin?
You, plum-tree, among bare boughs blossoming
Hard by the window, still on northward face
Snow-sealed, yet first to scent
Cold air with flowers, earliest of Spring;
'You first shall fall.'
You by whose boughs on mountain hedge entwined
Dull country folk have paused and caught their breath, 2 p. 106
Hewn down for firewood. Little had I thought
My hand so pitiless!"
(He cuts down the plum-tree.)
"You, cherry (for each Spring your blossom comes
Behind the rest), I thought a lonely tree
And reared you tenderly, but now
1, 1 am lonely left, and you, cut down,
Shall flower but with flame."
You now, O pine, whose branches I had thought
One day when you were old to lop and trim,
Standing you in the field, a football-post, 1
Such use shall never know.
Tree, whom the winds have ever wreathed
With quaking mists, now shimmering in the flame
Shall burn and burn.
Now like a beacon, sentinels at night
Kindle by palace gate to guard a king,
Your fire burns brightly.
Come, warm yourself.
Now we have a good fire and can forget the cold.
It is because you lodged with us that we too have a fire to sit by.
There is something I must ask you: I would gladly know to what clan my host belongs.
I am not of such birth; I have no clan-name.
Say what you will, I cannot think you a commoner. The times may change; what harm will you get by telling me your clan?
Indeed I have no reason to conceal it. Know then that Tsuneyo Genzayemon, Lord of Sano, is sunk to this!
How came it, sir, that you fell to such misery?
Thus it was: kinsmen usurped my lands, and so I became what am.
Why do you not go up to the Capital and lay your case before the Shikken's court?
By further mischance it happens that Lord Saimyōji 1 himself is absent upon pilgrimage. And yet not all is lost; for on the wall a tall spear still hangs, and armour with it; while in the stall a steed is tied. And if at any time there came from the City news of peril to our master--
Then, broken though it be I would gird this armour on,
And rusty though it be I would hold this tall spear,
And lean-ribbed though he be I would mount my horse and ride
Neck by neck with the swiftest,
To write my name on the roll.
And when the fight began
Though the foe were many, yet would I be the first
To cleave their ranks, to choose an adversary
To fight with him and die.
(He covers his face with his hands; his voice sinks again.)
But now, another fate, worn out with hunger
To die useless. Oh despair, despair!
Take courage; you shall not end so. If I live, I will come to you again. Now I go.
TSUNEYO and WIFE.
We cannot let you go. At first we were ashamed that you should p. 108 see the misery of our dwelling; but now we ask you to stay with us awhile.
Were I to follow my desire, think you I would soon go forth into the snow?
TSUNEYO and WIFE.
After a day of snow even the clear sky is cold, and to-night--
Where shall I lodge?
Stay with us this one day.
Though my longing bides with you--
TSUNEYO and WIFE.
You leave us?
Come back to us again.
CHORUS (speaking for PRIEST).
"And should you one day come up to the City, seek for me there. A humble priest can give you no public furtherance, yet can he find ways to bring you into the presence of Authority. Do not give up your suit." He said no more. He went his way,--he sad to leave them and they to lose him from their sight.
(Interval of Six Months.)
TSUNEYO (standing outside his hut and seeming to watch travellers on the road).
Hie, you travellers! Is it true that the levies are marching to p. 109 Kamakura? They are marching in great force, you say? So it is true. Barons and knights from the Eight Counties of the East all riding to Kamakura! A fine sight it will be. Tasselled breastplates of beaten silver; swords and daggers fretted with gold. On horses fat with fodder they ride; even the grooms of the relay-horses are magnificently apparelled. And along with them (miming the action of leading a horse) goes Tsuneyo, with horse, armour and sword that scarce seem worthy of such names. They may laugh, yet I am not, I think, a worse man than they; and had I but a steed to match my heart, then valiantly--(making the gesture of cracking a whip) you laggard!
The horse is old, palsied as a willow-bough; it cannot hasten. It is lean and twisted. Not whip or spur can move it. It sticks like a coach in a bog. He follows far behind the rest.
PRIEST (again ruler 1 of Japan, seated on a throne).
Are you there?
I stand before you.
Have the levies of all the lands arrived?
They are all come.
Among them should he a knight in broken armour, carrying a rusty sword, and leading his own lean horse. Find him, and bring him to me.
I tremble and obey. (Going to TSUNEYO.) I must speak with you.
What is it?
You are to appear immediately before my lord.
Is it I whom you are bidding appear before his lordship?
Yes, you indeed.
How can it be I? You have mistaken me for some other.
Oh no, it is you. I was told to fetch the most ill-conditioned of all the soldiers; and I am sure you are he. Come at once.
The most ill-conditioned of all the soldiers?
Then I am surely he.
Tell your lord that I obey.
I will do so.
I understand; too well I understand. Some enemy of mine has called me traitor, and it is to execution that I am summoned before the Throne. Well, there is no help for it. Bring me into the Presence.
He was led to where on a great daïs
All the warriors of this levy were assembled p. 111
Like a bright bevy of stars.
Row on row they were ranged,
Samurai and soldiers;
Swift scornful glances, fingers pointed
And the noise of laughter met his entering.
Stuck through his tattered, his old side-sewn sash,
His rusty sword sags and trails--yet he undaunted,
"My Lord, I have come."
(He bows before the Throne.)
Ha! He has come, Tsuneyo of Sano!
Have you forgotten the priest whom once you sheltered from the snowstorm? You have been true to the words that you spoke that night at Sano:
"If at any time there came news from the City of peril to our master
Then broken though it be, I would gird this armour on,
And rusty though it be, I would hold this tall spear,
And bony though he be, I would mount my horse and ride
Neck by neck with the swiftest."
These were not vain words; you have come valiantly. But know that this levy of men was made to this purpose: to test the issue of your words whether they were spoken false or true; and to hear the suits of all those that have obeyed my summons, that if any among them have suffered injury, his wrongs may be righted.
And first in the case of Tsuneyo, I make judgment. To him shall be returned his lawful estate, thirty parishes in the land of Sano.
But above all else one thing shall never be forgotten, that in the great snowstorm he cut down his trees, his treasure, and burnt them for firewood. And now in gratitude for the three trees of that time--plum, cherry and pine,--we grant to him three fiefs, Plumfield in Kaga, Cherrywell in Etchū and Pine-branch in Kōzuke.
He shall hold them as a perpetual inheritance for himself and for his heirs; in testimony whereof we give this title-deed, by our own hand signed and sealed, together with the safe possession of his former lands.
Then Tsuneyo took the deeds.
He took the deeds, thrice bowing his head.
(Speaking for TSUNEYO.)
"Look, all you barons! (TSUNEYO holds up the documents.)
Look upon this sight
And scorn to envy turn!"
Then the levies of all the lands
Took leave of their Lord
And went their homeward way.
And among them Tsuneyo
Among them Tsuneyo,
Joy breaking on his brow,
Rides now on splendid steed
To the Boat-bridge of Sano, to his lands once torn
Pitiless from him as the torrent tears
That Bridge of Boats at Sano now his own.
101:1 Po Chü-i's Works, iii. 13.
101:2 Alluding partly to the fact that he is snow-covered, partly to his grey hairs.
101:3 Kefu, "to-day."
102:1 Buddhist ordinances, such as hospitality to priests.
103:1 Food of the poorest peasants.
105:1 After Shākyamuni left the palace, he served the Rishi of the mountains.
105:2 Using words from a poem by Michizane (845-903 A. D.).
106:1 For Japanese football, see p. 246. A different interpretation has lately been suggested by Mr. Suzuki.
107:1 I.e. Tokiyori.
109:1 Hōjō no Tokiyori ruled at Kamakura from 1246 till 1256. He then became a priest and travelled through the country incognito in order to acquaint himself with the needs of his subjects.