p. 253 p. 254 p. 255
YAMA, KING OF HELL.
KIYOYORI, THE BIRD-CATCHER.
Yama the King of Hell comes forth to stand
At the Meeting of the Way, 2
Yai, yai. Where are my minions?
Haa! Here we are.
If any sinners come along, set upon them and drive them off to Hell.
We tremble and obey.
(Enter the bird-catcher, KIYOYORI).
"All men are sinners." What have I to fear
More than the rest?
My name is Kiyoyori the Bird-Catcher. I was very well known on p. 256 the Terrestrial Plane. But the span of my years came to its appointed close; I was caught in the Wind of Impermanence; and here I am, marching to the Sunless Land.
Without a pang I leave the world where I was wont to dwell,
The Temporal World.
Whither, oh whither have my feet carried me?
To the Six Ways already I have come.
Why, here I am already at the meeting of the Six Ways of Existence. I think on the whole I'll go to Heaven.
Haha! That smells like a man. Why, sure enough here's a sinner coming. We must report him. (To YAMA.) Please, sir, here's the first sinner arrived already!
Then bustle him to Hell at once.
"Hell is ever at hand," 1 which is more than
Can he said of Heaven. (Seizing KIYOYORI.)
Come on, now, come on! (KIYOYORI resists.)
Let me tell you, you're showing a great
Deal more spirit than most sinners do.
What was your job when you were on the
I was Kiyoyori, the famous bird-catcher.
Bird-catcher? That's bad. Taking life from morning to night. That's very serious, you know. I am afraid you will have to go to Hell.
Really, I don't consider I'm as had as all that. I should be very much obliged if you would let me go to Heaven.
We must ask King Yama about this. (To YAMA.) Please sir--!
Well, what is it?
It's like this. The sinner says that on the Terrestrial Plane he was a well-known bird-catcher. Now that means taking life all the time; it's a serious matter, and he certainly ought to go to Hell. But when we told him so, he said we'd entirely misjudged him.
What had we better do about it?
You'd better send him to me.
Very well. (To KIYOYORI.) Come along, King Yama says he'll see you himself.
Here's that sinner you sent for.
Listen to me, you sinner. I understand that when you were in the world you spent your whole time snaring birds. You are a very bad man and must go to Hell at once.
That's all very well. But the birds I caught were sold to gentlemen to feed their falcons on; so there was really no harm in it.
"Falcon" is another kind of bird, isn't it?
Yes, that's right.
Well then, I really don't see that there was much harm in it.
I see you take my view. It was the falcons who were to blame, not I. That being so, I should be very much obliged if you would allow me to go straight to Heaven.
YAMA (reciting in the Nō style.)
Then the great King of Hell
Because, though on the Hill of Death
Many birds flew, he had not tasted one,
"Come, take your pole," he cried, and here and now
Give us a demonstration of your art.
Then go in peace.
Nothing could be simpler.
I will catch a few birds and present them to you.
Then he took his pole, and crying
"To the hunt, to the hunt! . . ."
"To the bird-hunt," he cried,
And suddenly from the steep paths of the southern side of the Hill of Death
Many birds came flying.
Then swifter than sight his pole
Darted among them.
"I will roast them," he cried.
And when they were cooked,
"Please try one," and he offered them to the King.
Let me eat it, let me eat it.
(Eats, smacking his lips.)
Well! I must say they taste uncommonly good!
KIYOYORI (to the DEMONS).
Perhaps you would like to try some?
Oh, thank you! (They eat greedily and snatch.) I want that bit! No, it's mine! What a flavour!
I never tasted anything so nice. You have given us such a treat that I am going to send you back to the world to go on bird-catching for another three years.
I am very much obliged to you, I'm sure.
You shall catch many birds,
Pheasant, pigeon, heron and stork.
They shall not elude you, but fall
Fast into the fatal snare.
So he, reprieved, turned back towards the World;
But Yama, loth to see him go, bestowed
A jewelled crown, which Kiyoyori bore
Respectfully to the Terrestrial Plane,
There to begin his second span of life.
255:1 Kyōgen Zenshū, p. 541. This farce is a parody of such Nō-plays as Ukai.
255:2 The Buddhist "Six Ways," Rokudō.
256:1 See Ukai, p. 169.