Japanese Text Initiative
1st Editionpp. 51-56
Prepared for the University of Virginia Library Electronic Text Center.
I am Gyokei, priest of the imperial temple Ninnaji. You must know that there was a certain prince of the House of Taira named Tsunemasa, Lord of Tajima, who since his boyhood has enjoyed beyond all precedent the favour of our master the Emperor. But now he has been killed at the Battle of the Western Seas.
It was to this Tsunemasa in his lifetime that the Emperor had given the lute called Green Hill. And now my master bids me take it and dedicate it to Buddha, performing a liturgy of flutes and strings for the salvation of Tsunemasa's soul. And that was my purpose in gathering these musicians together.
Truly it is said that strangers who shelter under the same tree or draw water from the same pool will be friends in another life. How much the more must intercourse of many years, kindness and favour so deep. . . 1
How strange! Within the flame of our candle that is burning low because the night is far spent, suddenly I seemed to see a man's shadow dimly appearing. Who can be here?
I am the ghost of Tsunemasa. The sound of your prayers has brought me in visible shape before you.
"I am the ghost of Tsunemasa," he said, but when I looked to where the voice had sounded nothing was there, neither substance nor shadow!
How strange! When the form of Tsunemasa had vanished, his voice lingered and spoke to me! Am I dreaming or waking? I cannot tell. But this I know, -- that by the power of my incantations I have had converse with the dead. Oh! marvellous potency of the Law!
It was long ago that I came to the Palace. I was but a boy then, but all the world knew me; for I was marked with the love of our Lord, with the favour of an Emperor. And, among many gifts, he gave to me once while I was in the World this lute which you have dedicated. My fingers were ever on its strings.
For the dead man's sake we play upon this lute Green Hill that he loved when he was in the World. We follow the lute-music with a concord of many instruments.[ Music. ]
And while they played the dead man stole up behind them. Though he could not be seen by the light of the candle, they felt him pluck the lute-strings. . . .
It is midnight. He is playing Yabanraku, the dance of midnight-revel. And now that we have shaken sleep from our eyes. . .
The sky is clear, yet there is a sound as of sudden rain. . . .
Rain beating carelessly on trees and grasses. What season's music 5 ought we to play?
Oh terrible anguish!
For a little while I was back in the World and my heart set on its music, on revels of midnight. But now the hate is rising in me. . . . 11