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vent zeal to the gods; he made me hold the holy symbols of the
(Vanishing the Fox repeated his promise.)
trouble to the world;
V mother, but Munemori refused to give her leave
By YONE NOGUCHI
of Yuya, a daughter of the chief of the Ikeda
to return home, in spite of her repeated entreaties. Nay, he insisted that she should accompany him in the flower-viewing of the approaching spring. And he began to make preparations for a day's outing somewhere by Kiyomizu where the flowers are always at their best.
At Yuya's home in the Ikeda village her mother, growing impatient at her daughter's delay, decided to send Asagawo, her maid, to the capital, to hand her missive to Yuya in person. Asagawo arrived in the city after many days' journey. When she found herself at Yuya's places, Yuya, deep in the thought of her old mother, was murmuring:
“The grasses and trees grow by the mercy of the rain and dews; if they have souls, they will never forget the motherly kindness of the rain and the dews. Then how can human beings ever forget their own parents? I feel uneasy and restless at thought of my mother. Oh, how is she today?”
Yuya was surprised and gladdened by Asagawo's call. On inquiring of her mother's conditions, she was answered: “Her condition is very poor. Here is your
mother's missive; pray read it at once.”
When Yuya had read the missive over, with trembling hands and still more trembling heart she exclaimed in spite of herself: “Alas and alack, drawing anear is the end of mother's life.” Then she said that there was no time to delay, Asagawo should accompany her to Munemori's dwelling where she would again entreat the Lord for leave to go. Yuya appeared in due time in Munemori's presence, and begged him to read her mother's missive which Asagawo as a special messenger had brought from her home in the far away North. But coldly declining to read it himself,
Munemori said he would listen to her reading of it. Yuya obeyed and now began to read aloud before her Lord:
“There is neither spring flower nor autumn moon which will bloom everlastingly and does not suffer eclipse. Even the Lord Buddha who appeared to save the people of the future age could not escape from the law of life and death, but passed away. And our lives of common order should be ready any time for their own death. As I wrote you last February, my body grows weaker, particularly this year; and thinking that I may not be able to see the flowers of this coming spring, my saddened heart has been but crying. You should lay the matter before your Lorá with your proper words, and being given leave, pray, return home at
It is said that the pledge between parent and child is only a matter of their own life-time; it is not the part of filial piety for you to go without seeing the last hour of my life, living thus far away. While I have my own breath, I wish to see you again.'
When she had finished reading, Yuya said that she would be glad to be permitted to start immediately; but Munemori persisted in saying that she should not disappoint him as he had already made all preparations for a feast-making for that day. Again Yuya said to him:
“It is irreverent to gainsay you, my Lord; but there will be, for flower-viewing, many springs in the future. My mother is now on the brink of death. Pray, give me your leave to go!”
Munemori, begging her not to say such disheartened and weak-voiced words, ordered the ox-cart to be drawn out; he commanded Yuya to accompany him for the flower-viewing he had planned with much anticipation. Soon the cart left his dwelling in Rokujo toward the Temple of Kiyomizu, carrying the sorrowful heart of the beautiful Yuya, to whom the Eastern Hill of the Capital will only appear as a suggestion of the Eastern Highway or Azumaji where her mother is breathing low. The view of the Eastern Hill, reminding us of a certain poet's lines:
“The rain before Spring hastens the flowers to bloom:
Having no frost after Autumn, the leaves fall slow.” again of the following:
“Hill beyond the hills, no end of the hills:
Many roads in the roads, no limit of the road.' was soon unrolled; lo, the grasses and trees green in the succession of the hills, and the flowers white as if covering clouds. Mune
mori's cart presently came near the Kamo River, where on the Bridges of Shijo and Gojo such clamourous people, young and old, rich and poor, were seen touching the sleeves of their dresses or, let us say, “the flower-viewing dress” against one another; whither were they hurrying? They soon became invisible underneath the cloud-like or mist-like flowers in full bloom. Among the flowers there is a kind eight-fold in petals; and some are single flowers; if you unite them, there will be an ideal beauty of ninefold petals; this famous capital, indeed, ninefold in glory was having her own spring of springs. The cart passed over Gojo Kawara or the Beach of the Kamo River by Gojo, and stopped in the ground of the Temple of Rokuhara Mitsuji through the broad walk of Kuruma Oji, where Kshtigarbha, the Deity of children, was enshrined; hearing that the Goddess of Mercy who will save even the souls unbelieving and evil had here her own home, Yuya prayed to her earnestly for the protection of her sick mother. Now passing the Crossway of the Six Roads by the Temple of Atago (Yuya's delicate soul trembled in fear thinking of a certain Crossway of Six Roads in Hades), the cart brought and Yuya to the Toribe Hill only to make her still sadder at the sight of the smoke rising from a crematory; and her thought of the Northern home was yet embittered by the sudden sight of a bird of passage which cried in flying back to the Northern sky. She was already anear the Slope of Kiyomizu; looking behind the Temple of the Sacred Books and the Tower of Koyasu, she finally arrived at the gate of the Temple of Kiyomizu where she left the cart for the main temple with the Holy Goddess of Mercy to pray for her mother's sake. She now recited the pages of the sutra before the Goddess, while her Lord, Taira no Munemori, was commencing on the other hand, his feast of flower-viewing under the trees of his choice.
Yuya receiving her Lord's command to join the party, reluctantly left the temple; and even tried to look happy at the party and to admire the flowers in full blossom. And she asked the company if their thoughts or imaginations about the flowers might express themselves in poetry. But she could not hide her own sorrow of heart. When, however, she recalled the saying that it is the way of the world not to run as one wishes, her brave mind thought that it was never right of her to make the party gloomy and dull on her own account; and she stood singing:
“The butterflies dance before the flower:
Lo, snow falling adrift!
“Down by the running stream
When she finished the song, she thought, now listening to the temple bell tolling of the eve, that it sounded, like the sacred bell of a certain temple in India, as if the voice of the transitoriness of all things; again she thought, looking at the flowers blooming, that the very meaning of inevitable death for all living things was to be found in their laughter. But hoping to part from thoughts of sorrow, she gazed far down to the Temple of Keikyo by the “Lower River Beach” on this side, and the Forest of Gion on that side, where the green of the forest was softened by the flower-clouds, and farther south over Ima Kumano or the Inari Hill famous for its maple leaves in autumn. “But as for the flowers,” she declared, “the Kiyomizu is the best.” Why did the winds sweep down the flowers so fast? And who knew, she grieved in her heart, how deeply she was suffering under the sorrow of falling flowers? Shaking off her sorrow once more, she approached her Lord to serve him with a cup of sake. Munemori asked Yuya if she would mind dancing a little thing to help out the entertainment. She could not but obey her Lord; but during the dance, a sudden shower fell, moving Yuya's sensitive mind to tears. Yuya stopped her dance, saying:
“How do you look upon the flowers cast down by the shower,
“What a heartless shower that is,” Munemori murmured.
Yuya unfolded wide her fan and caught the falling petals on the way. She was thinking of the following old poem:
“Are they tears or falling petals?