Sotoba Komachi

Pound, Ezra and Fenollosa, Ernest

About the electronic version
Sotoba Komachi
Pound, Ezra and Fenollosa, Ernest
Creation of machine-readable version: Winnie Chan
Creation of digital images:
Conversion to TEI.2-conformant markup: University of Virginia Library Electronic Text Center.
University of Virginia Library.
Charlottesville, Va.


   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 print source have been added to the notes at the end of the electronic document.
About the print version
Sotoba Komachi
"Noh" or Accomplishment: a Study of the Classical Stage in Japan
Ezra Pound and Ernest Fenollosa

   1st Edition


   Prepared for the University of Virginia Library Electronic Text Center.

Published: 1916

Revisions to the electronic version
August 1997 corrector Catherine Tousignant, Electronic Text Center
  • Added milestones to conform with TylSoto

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

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    Page 21


    When I was young I had pride
    And the flowers in my hair
    Were like spring willows.
    I spoke like the nightingales, and now am old,
    Old by a hundred years, and wearied out.
    I will sit down and rest.

    The Waki
    [ one of the priests, is shocked at her impiety and says ]

        It is near evening; let us be getting along. Now will you look at that beggar. She is sitting on a sotoba [ a carved wooden devotional stick, or shrine. ]
    Tell her to come off it and sit on some proper thing.


        Eh, for all your blather it has no letters on it, not a smudge of old painting. I thought it was only a stick.

    Page 22


        Is it only a stick or a stump? May be it had once fine flowers -- in its time, in its time; and now it is a stick, to be sure, with the blessed Buddha cut in it.


        Oh, well then, I'm a stump, too, and well buried, with a flower at my heart. Go on and talk of the shrine.

    [ The Tsure, in this case the second priest, tells the legend of the shrine, and while he is doing it, the Waki notices something strange about the old hag, and cries out -- ]

        Who are you?


    I am the ruins of Ono,
    The daughter of Ono no Yoshizane.

    Waki and Tsure
    [ together ]

    How sad a ruin is this:
    Komachi was in her day a bright flower;
    She had the blue brows of Katsura;
    She used no powder at all;
    She walked in beautiful raiment in palaces.

    Page 23

    Many attended her verse in our speech
    And in the speech of the foreign court.

    [ That is, China. ]

    White of winter is over her head,
    Over the husk of her shoulders;
    Her eyes are no more like the colour on distant mountains.
    She is like a dull moon that fades in the dawn's grip.
    The wallet about her throat has in it a few dried beans,
    A bundle is wrapped on her back, and on her shoulder is a basket of woven roots;
    She cannot hide it at all.
    She is begging along the road;
    She wanders, a poor, daft shadow.

    [ I cannot quite make out whether the priest is still skeptical, and thinks he has before him merely an old woman who thinks she is Komachi. At any rate, she does not want commiseration, and replies. ]


        Daft! Will you hear him? In my own young days I had a hundred letters from men a sight better than he is. They came like rain-drops in May. And I had a high head, may be, that time. And I sent out no answer.

    Page 24

    You think because you see me alone now that I was in want of a handsome man in the old days, when Shosho came with the others -- Shii no Shosho of Fukakusa [Deep Grass] that came to me in the moonlight and in the dark night and in the nights flooded with rain, and in the black face of the wind and in the wild swish of the snow. He came as often as the melting drops fall from the eaves, ninety-nine times, and he died. And his ghost is about me, driving me on with the madness.

        Umewaka Minoru acted Ono in this play on March 8, 1899. It is quite usual for an old actor, wearing a mask, to take the part of a young woman. There is another play of Ono and Shosho called Kayoi Komachi, "Komachi Going"; it is by a Minoru, and Umewaka acted it on November 19, 1899; and it was followed by Suma Genji. I shall give both of these plays complete without further comment.