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

p. 274


Thereupon [his] Empresses 1 and likewise [his] august [221] children, who dwelt in Yamato, all went down 2 and built an august mausoleum, and, forthwith crawling hither and thither in the rice-fields encompassing [the mausoleum]. sobbed out a Song, saying:

"The Dioscorea quinqueloba crawling hither and thither among the rice-stubble, among the rice-stubble in the rice-fields encompassing [the mausoleum] . . ." 3

Thereupon [the dead prince], turning into a white dotterel 4 eight fathoms [long], and soaring up to Heaven, flew off towards the shore. Then the Empress and likewise the august children, though they tore their feet treading on the stubble of the bamboo-grass, forgot the pain, and pursued him with lamentations. At that time they sang, saying:

"Our loins are impeded in the plain [over-grown with] short bamboo-grass. We are not going through the sky, but oh! we are on foot." 5

[222] Again when they entered the salt sea, 6 and suffered as they went, they sang, saying.

"As we go through the sea, our loins are impeded,—tottering in the sea like herbs growing in a great river-bed." 7

p. 275

Again when [the bird] flew and perched on the sea-side, they sang, saying:

"The dotterel of the beach goes not on the beach, but follows the seaside." 8

These four Songs were all sung at [Yamato-take's] august interment. So to the present day these Songs are sung at the great interment of a Heavenly Sovereign. So [the bird] flew off from that country, 9 and stopped at Shiki in the land of Kafuchi. 10 So they made an august mausoleum there, and laid [Yamato-take] to rest. 11 Forthwith that august mausoleum was called by the [223] name of the "August-Mausoleum of the White-Bird." 12 Nevertheless the bird soared up thence to heaven again, and flew away.

p. 276


274:1 I.e., wives. It will be remembered that the historian habitually mentions Yamato-take as if he had been Emperor.

274:2 Q.d., to the land of Ise.

274:3 The drift of the Song is a comparison of the; helpless wanderings of the mourners in the neighbourhood of the tomb to the convolutions of the Dioscorea quinqueloba (a creeping plant) growing among the rice in the adjacent fields. But there are evidently some lines omitted. If we were to adopt the elegant verses conjecturally supplied by Moribe, the entire translation would run thus: "The Dioscorea quinqueloba crawl hither and thither among the rice-stubble, among the rice-stubble in the rice-fields encompassing [the mausoleum]; but though like it, we crawl hither and thither, and weep and speak to thee, thou answerest not a word."—Moribe supposes this poem to be the Empress's composition, and the following three to have proceeded from the children.

274:4 As usual when the word chidori (defined as "any kind of dotterel, plover or sandpiper") is used, it is doubtful what bird is really intended. At the end of this Section we are told that the Mausoleum was called the Mausoleum of the White Bird ( )." Specifically, however, these characters are used with their Sinico-Japanese pronunciation of haku-cho as the name of the swan. But as swans are nowhere else mentioned in these "Records "and as moreover their habits are not p. 276 such as to accord with the legend here narrated, it will perhaps be safer to retain "dotterel "in the translation. "Heron "also has been suggested.

274:5 The signification of this Song is: "It is easy enough for thee, thou bird-spirit! to fly through the air. But remember that we are on foot, and that our feet are getting torn by the short stubble of the bamboo-grass (Bambusa shino)."

274:6 When the bird flew over the sea, they too waded after it through the waves.

274:7 The signification of the Song is: "As we pursue thee through the sea, we sink in the waves up to our middles, and totter like the water-plants against "which strikes the current of a great river."—The word uwe-gusa, lit. "herbs planted," is curious; but it simply means "herbs growing," as in the translation (conf. our word "plant"). The latter part of the poem is in the original highly elliptical.

275:8 The point of the Song seems to rest on a delicate distinction between the words hama, "beach "and iso, "seaside," which does not obtain in the later Japanese language any more than it does in English. Both hama and iso, "beach" and "seaside," denote the boundary-line between sea and land; but we must suppose with the commentators that while the former was used with special reference to the land, the latter considered the idea (so to speak) from the point of view of the sea. The import of the song is therefore to upbraid the bird for flying over the waves instead of flying along the adjacent shore.

275:9 I.e., says Motowori, from Ise.

275:10 Not to be confounded with the Shiki in Yamato, which is written with different phonetic character.

275:11 The Verb used in the original is shizumeru, "to repress," "to quiet," "to lay," "to establish," hence "to build a temple to a god," "to worship." The grammatical vagueness of the Japanese language helps in all this passage to preserve the connection of ideas in a manner which it is difficult to render in an English translation. Using no pronouns, it does not require to specialise in each instance whether it is the bird that is meant, or Yamato-take, but the two are confounded together in language as they were in thought.

275:12 Shira-tori no misasaki. According to the parallel passage of the "Chronicles," it was not only this tomb in Kafuchi, but the previously mentioned tomb at Nobonu, and also another in Yamato, which were severally known by this designation.

Next: Section XCI.—Emperor Kei-kō (Part XVI.—Yamato-Take's Butler)