Kumasaka

Waley, Arthur

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Kumasaka
Waley, Arthur

Creation of machine-readable version: Winnie Chan

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Conversion to TEI.2-conformant markup: University of Virginia Library Electronic Text Center. ca. 20 kilobytes
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1997

     Japanese Text Initiative


Note: Footnotes in the print source have been moved to the end of the electronic document and numbered consecutively. For descriptive purposes, words and phrases preceding footnote markers in the print source have been added to notes at the end of the electronic document.
About the print version


Kumasaka The No plays of Japan
Arthur Waley

     1st Edition

pp. 60-68
Alfred A. Knopf
New York
1922

     Prepared for the University of Virginia Library Electronic Text Center.


Published: 1922


English
Romaji drama; poetry; prose Literature in Translation LCSH
Revisions to the electronic version
September 1997 corrector Catherine Tousignant, Electronic Text Center
  • Added milestones to correspond with ZeaKuma.



  • January 1997 corrector Winnie Chan
  • Added TEI header and tags



  • etext@virginia.edu. Commercial use prohibited; all usage governed by our Conditions of Use: http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/conditions.html


    -60-

    KUMASAKA
    By ZENCHIKU UJINOBU (1414-1499?)

    PERSONS

    A Priest from the Capital
    A Priest of Amasaka (really the ghost of the robber Kumasaka No Chonan)
    Chorus

    Priest


    These weary feet that found the World
    Too sad to walk in, whither
    Oh whither shall wandering lead them?

          I am a priest from the Capital. I have never seen the East country, and now I am minded to go there on pilgrimage.

    [ He describes the journey, walking slowly round the stage. ]


    Over the mountains, down the Omi road by a foam-flecked stream;
    And through the woods of Awazu.
    Over the long bridge of Seta
    Heavily my footfall clangs.
    In the bamboo-woods of Noji I await the dawn.
    There where the morning dew lies thick, over the Greenfield Plain,
    Green in name only -- for the leaves are red with autumn --
    In evening sunshine to the village of Akasaka I am come!

    Kumasaka
    [ It is convenient to call him this, but he is the ghost of Kumasaka, appearing in the guise of a priest. ]

          Hey, you priest, I have something to say to you!


    Priest

          What is it you would say to me?


    -61-


    Kumasaka

          To-day is some one's birthday. I beg of you to pray for the salvation of his soul.


    Priest

          I have left the World, and it is my business now to say such prayers; but of whom am I to think when I pray?


    Kumasaka

          There is no need to know his name. He is buried in that tomb over there, among the rushes to this side of the pine tree. It is because he cannot get free 1 that he needs your prayers.


    Priest

          No, no; it will not do. I cannot pray for him unless I know his name.


    Kumasaka

          Pray, none the less. For it is written, "All the creatures of the world shall be profited.

          There shall be no distinction."


    Priest

          From dying and being born.


    Kumasaka

          Deliver him, oh deliver him!


    Chorus


    For he that taketh a prayer unto himself
    Even though his name be not named, if he receive it gladly,
    Is the owner of the prayer.
    Was not the promise made to the trees of the field,
    To the soil of the land? Though the heart that prays marks no name upon the prayer,
    Yet shall it be heard.

    Kumasaka

          Then come back to my cottage with me and pass the night there.


    -62-


    Priest

          I will come.

    [ They go into the cottage, which is represented by a wicker framework at the front. ]

          Listen! I thought you were taking me to where there would be a chapel, so that I could begin my prayers. But here I can see no painted picture nor carven image that I could put up. There is nothing on the wall but a great pike, -- no handstaff, but only an iron crowbar; and other weapons of war are nailed up. What is the reason of this?


    Kumasaka

          You must know that when I first took the vows of priesthood I went round from village to village here, to Tarui, Auhaka and Akasaka -- there is no end to them, but I know all the roads, -- through the tall grass at Aono and the thick woods of Koyasu, night or day, rain or fine. For I was a hill-bandit in those days, a thief of the night, tilting baggage from mules' backs; even stripping servant-girls of their clothes, as they went from farm to farm, and leaving them sobbing.

          Then it was that I used to take with me that pike there and waving it in their faces, "Stand and deliver!" I would cry.

          But at last a time came when it was not so. 2 And after that time I was glad enough to find shelter even in such a place as this. I yielded my will and was content. For at last I had indeed resolved to leave the hateful World.

          Oh petty prowess of those days!


    Chorus


    For hand of priest unfit indeed
    Such deeds and weapons had I thought;
    Yet among gods
    Hath not the Lord Amida his sharp sword?
    Doth not the King of Love
    3
    Shoot arrows of salvation from his bow?
    Tamon with tilted lance
    Outbattled demons and hath swept away
    All perils from the world.

    -63-


    Kumasaka


    Thoughts of love and pity
    May be sins fouler

    Chorus


    Than the Five Faults of Datta;
    4
    And the taking of life for faith
    Be holiness greater
    Than the six virtues of Bosatsu. 5
    These things have I seen and heard.
    But for the rest, is it not Thought alone
    That either wanders in the trackless night
    Of Error or awakes to the wide day?
    "Master thy thoughts, or they will master thee,"
    An ancient proverb 6 says.
    [ Speaking for Kumasaka. ]

          "But I must have done, or dawn will find me talking still. Go to your rest, Sir; and I too will doze awhile." So he spoke, and seemed to go into the bedroom. But suddenly the cottage vanished: nothing was left but the tall grass. It was under the shadow of a pine-tree that he 7 had rested!

    [ There is usually an interlude to occupy the time while Kumasaka is changing his costume. An inhabitant of Akasaka tells stories of Kumasaka's exploits. ]

    Priest

          I have seen strange things. I cannot sleep, no, not even for a while as little as the space between the antlers of a young stag. Under this autumn-winded pine-tree lying, all night long I will perform a service of chanted prayer. 8


    Kumasaka
    [ Reappearing with a scarf tied round his head and a long pike over his shoulder. ]

    -64-

          The wind is rising in the south-east. The clouds of the north-west are shifting; it is a dark night. A wild wind is sweeping the woods under the hill.


    Chorus

          See how the branches are heaving.


    Kumasaka

          The moon does not rise till dawn to-night; and even when she rises she will be covered.

          Send along the order for an assault!

    [ Recollecting himself. ]

          The whole heart divided between bow-hand and rein-hand, -- oh the sin of it! For ever seizing another's treasure! Look, look on my misery, how my heart clings to the World!


    Priest

          If you are Kumasaka himself, tell me the story of those days.


    Kumasaka

          There was a merchant, a trafficker in gold, called Kichiji of the Third Ward. Each year he brought together a great store, and loading it in bales carried it up-country. And thinking to waylay him I summoned divers trusty men. . . .


    Priest

          Tell me the names of those that were chosen by you and the countries they came from.


    Kumasaka

          There was Kakujo of Kawachi, and the brothers Surihari that had no rivals in fencing.


    Priest

          Well, and from within the City itself among many there were --


    Kumasaka

          There was Emon of the Third Ward and Kozaru of Mibu.


    -65-


    Priest

          Skilful torch-throwers, in broken-attack


    Kumasaka

          Their like will never be seen.


    Priest

          And from the North country, from Echizen


    Kumasaka

          There was Matsuwaka of Asau and Kuro of Mikuni.


    Priest

          And from the country of Kaga, from Kumasaka


    Kumasaka

          There was this Chohan, the first of them, a great hand at deeds of villainy; and with him seventy men of the band.


    Priest

          On all the roads where Kichiji might be passing, up hill and down dale on every halting-place they spied, till at last


    Kumasaka

          Here at the Inn of Akasaka we found him, -- a fine place, with many roads leading from it. We set watch upon the place. The merchants had sent for women. From nightfall they feasted. They roystered the hours away --


    Priest


    And at last, very late at night,
    Kichiji and his brother, with no thought for safety,
    Fell into a sodden sleep.

    Kumasaka


    But there was with them a boy of sixteen.
    9
    He put his bright eye to a hole in the wall.
    He did not make the least noise.

    -66-


    Priest


    He did not sleep a wink.

    Kumasaka


    Ushiwaka! We did not know he was there.

    Priest


    Then the robbers, whose luck was run out,

    Kumasaka


    Thinking that the hour of fortune was come,

    Priest


    Waited impatiently.

    Chorus


    Oh how long it seemed till at last the order came.

    Kumasaka


    Dash in!

    Chorus


    And, hurling their firebrands,
    In they rushed, each jostling to be first,
    More of them and more, in a wild onslaught.
    Not even the God of Peril had dared to face them.
    But little Ushiwaka showed no fear.
    He drew his belt-sword and met them.
    The Lion Pounce, The Tiger Leap, The Bird Pounce . . .
    10
    He parried them all. They thrust at him but could not prevail.
    Thirteen there were who attacked him;
    And now, done to death, on the same pillow head to head they lie.
    And others, wounded, have flung down their swords and slunk back weaponless,
    Stripped of all else but life.
    Then Kumasaka cried: "What demon or god can he be
    Under whose hand all these have fallen? For a man he cannot be!
    But even robbers need their lives! This is no work for me; I will withdraw."
    And slinging his pike, slowly he turned to go.

    -67-


    Kumasaka


    I was thinking.

    Chorus


    He was thinking as he went,
    "Though this stripling slash so bravely,
    Yet should Kumasaka employ his secret art, --
    Then though the boy be ogre or hobgoblin,
    Waist-strangled he would be pressed to dust."
    "I will avenge the fallen," he cried, and, turning back,
    He levelled his pike and sheltered behind the wattled door,
    Waiting for the urchin to come.
    Ushiwaka saw him, and drawing his sword held it close to his side,
    Stood apart and watched. But Kumasaka too stood with his pike ready.
    Each was waiting for the other to spring.
    Then Kumasaka lost patience. He lunged with his left foot and with his pike
    Struck a blow that would have pierced an iron wall.
    But Ushiwaka parried it lightly and sprang to the left.
    Kumasaka was after him in a moment, and as he sprang nimbly over the pike
    11
    Turned the point towards him.
    But as he drew back the pike, Ushiwaka crossed to the right.
    Then levelling the pike, Kumasaka struck a great blow.
    This time the boy parried it with a blow that disengaged them,
    And springing into the air leapt hither and thither with invisible speed.
    And while the robber sought him,
    The wonderful boy pranced behind and stuck his sword through a chink in his coat of mail.
    "Hey, what is that?" cried Kumasaka. "Has this urchin touched me?"
    And he was very angry.
    But soon Heaven's fatal ordinance was sealed by despair:
    "This sword-play brings me no advantage," he cried; "I will wrestle with him."
    Then he threw away his pike, and spreading out his great hands,
    -68-


    Down this corridor and into this corner he chased him, but when he would have grasped him,
    Like lightning, mist, moonlight on the water, --
    The eye could see, but the hand could not touch.

    Kumasaka


    I was wounded again and again.

    Chorus

          He was wounded many times, till the fierce strength of his spirit weakened and weakened. Like dew upon the moss that grows.


    Kumasaka


    Round the foot of this pine-tree

    Chorus


    Are vanished the men of this old tale.
    "Oh, help me to be born to happiness."
    [ Kumasaka entreats the Priest with folded hands. ]


    The cocks are crowing. A whiteness glimmers over the night.
    He has hidden under the shadow of the pine-trees of Akasaka;
    [ Kumasaka hides his face with his left sleeve. ]


    Under the shadow of the pine-trees he has hidden himself away.


    Footnotes



    [1: It is because he cannot get free] I.e. he is "attached" to earth and cannot get away to the Western Paradise.

    [2: a time came when it was not so] I.e. the time of his encounter with Ushiwaka.

    [3: the King of Love] Aizen.

    [4: Datta] Devadatta, the wicked contemporary of Buddha.

    [5: the six virtues of Bosatsu] The six paths to Bodisattva-hood, i. e. Almsgiving, Observance of Rules, Forbearance, Meditation, Knowledge and Singleness of Heart.

    [6: an ancient proverb] Actually from the Nirvāna Sutra.

    [7: he had rested] The Priest.

    [8: a service of chanted prayer] Koye-butsuji, "Voice-service."

    [9: a boy of sixteen] Yoshitsune (Ushiwaka) had run away from the temple where he was being educated and joined the merchant's caravan; see p. 70.

    [10: The Lion Pounce, The Tiger Leap, The Bird Pounce] Names of strokes in fencing.

    [11: Kumasaka was after him in a moment. . .] I have thought it better to print these "recitals" as verse, though in the original (as obviously in my translation) they are almost prose.