Japanese Text Initiative
Prepared for the University of Virginia Library Electronic Text Center.
The story of the mortal who stole an angel's cloak and so prevented her return to heaven is very widely spread. It exists, with variations and complications, in India, China, Japan, the Liu Chiu Islands and Sweden. The story of Hasan in the Arabian Nights is an elaboration of the same theme.
The No play is said to have been written by Seami, but a version of it existed long before. The last half consists merely of chants sung to the dancing. Some of these (e. g. the words to the Suruga Dance) have no relevance to the play, which is chiefly a framework or excuse for the dances. It is thus a No of the primitive type, and perhaps belongs, at any rate in its conception, to an earlier period than such unified dramas as Atsumori or Kagekiyo. The words of the dances in Maiguruma are just as irrelevant to the play as those of the Suruga Dance in Hagoromo, but there the plot explains and even demands their intrusion.
The libretto of the second part lends itself very ill to translation, but I have thought it best to give the play in full.
Loud the rowers' cry
Who through the storm-swept paths of Mio Bay
Ride to the rising sea.
I am Hakuryo, a fisherman whose home is by the pine-woods of Mio.
[ The second Fisherman retires to a position near the leader of the Chorus and takes no further part in the action. ]
"On a thousand leagues of lovely hill clouds suddenly close;
But by one tower the bright moon shines in a clear sky." 1
A pleasant season, truly: on the pine-wood shore
The countenance of Spring;
Early mist close-clasped to the swell of the sea;
In the plains of the sky a dim, loitering moon.
Sweet sight, to gaze enticing
Eyes even of us earth-cumbered
Low souls, least for attaining
Of high beauty nurtured.
Oh unforgettable! By mountain paths
Down to the sea of Kiyomi I come
And on far woodlands look,
Pine-woods of Mio, thither
Come, thither guide we our course.
Fishers, why put you back your boats to shore,
No fishing done?
Thought you them rising waves, those billowy clouds
Wind-blown across sea?
Wait, for the time is Spring and in the trees
The early wind his everlasting song
Sings low; and in the bay
Silent in morning calm the little ships,
Ships of a thousand fishers, ride the sea.
[ He walks four steps towards the Waki's pillar carrying the feather robe. ]
Now I have landed at the pine-wood of Mio and am viewing the beauty of the shore. Suddenly there is music in the sky, a rain of flowers, unearthly fragrance wafted on all sides. These are no common things; nor is this beautiful cloak that hangs upon the pine-tree. I come near to it. It is marvellous in form and fragrance. This surely is no common dress. I will take it back with me and show it to the people of my home. It shall be a treasure in my house.
[ entering through the curtain at the end of the gallery. ]
Stop! That cloak is mine. Where are you going with it?
This is a cloak I found here. I am taking it home.
It is an angel's robe of feathers, a cloak no mortal man may wear. Put it back where you found it.
How? Is the owner of this cloak an angel of the sky? Why, then, I will put it in safe keeping. It shall be a treasure in the land, a marvel to men unborn. 2 I will not give back your cloak.
Oh pitiful! How shall I cloakless tread
The wing-ways of the air, how climb
The sky, my home?
Oh, give it back, in charity give it back.
[ Describing his own actions. Then he walks away. ]
No charity is in me, and your moan
Makes my heart resolute.
Look, I take your robe, hide it, and will not give it back.
Like a bird without wings,
I would rise, but robeless
To the low earth you sink, an angel dwelling
In the dingy world.
This way, that way.
But when she saw he was resolved to keep it . . .
Help none. . .
Then on her coronet,
Jewelled as with the dew of tears,
The bright flowers drooped and faded. 3
O piteous to see before the eyes,
Fivefold the signs of sickness
Corrupt an angel's form.
I look into the plains of heaven,
The cloud-ways are hid in mist,
The path is lost.
Oh, enviable clouds,
At your will wandering
For ever idle in the empty sky
That was my home!
Now fades and fades upon my ear
The voice of Kalavink, 4
Daily accustomed song.
And you, oh you I envy,
Down the sky-paths returning;
And you, O seaward circling, shoreward sweeping
Swift seagulls of the bay:
Even the wind, because in heaven it blows,
The wind of Spring I envy.
Listen. Now that I have seen you in your sorrow, I yield and would give you back your mantle.
Oh, I am happy! Give it me then!
Wait. I have heard tell of the dances that are danced in heaven. Dance for me now, and I will give back your robe.
I am happy, happy. Now I shall have wings and mount the sky again.
And for thanksgiving I bequeath
A dance of remembrance to the world,
Fit for the princes of men:
The dance tune that makes to turn
The towers of the moon,
I will dance it here and as an heirloom leave it
To the sorrowful men of the world.
Give back my mantle, I cannot dance without it.
Say what you will, I must first have back the robe.
Not yet, for if I give back your robe, not a step would you dance, but fly with it straight to the sky.
No, no. Doubt is for mortals;
In heaven is no deceit.
[ He gives it to her and she takes it in both hands. ]
I am ashamed. Look, I give back the robe.
The heavenly lady puts on her garment,
She dances the dance of the Rainbow Skirt, of the Robe of Feathers.
The sky-robe flutters, it yields to the wind.
Sleeve like a flower wet with rain. . .
The first dance is over.
Shall I dance?
The dance of Suruga, with music of the East?
Thus was it first danced.
[ The Angel dances, while the Chorus sings the words of the dance, an ancient Shinto chant. ]
"Why name we
Wide-stretched and everlasting.
The sky of heaven?
Two gods 5 there came of old
And built, upon ten sides shut in,
A measured world for men;
But without limit arched they
The sky above, and named it
Wide-stretched and everlasting."
Thus is the Moon-God's palace:
Its walls are fashioned
With an axe of jade.
In white dress, black dress,
Thrice ten angels
In two ranks divided,
Thrice five for the waning,
Thrice five for nights of the waxing moon,
One heavenly lady on each night of the moon
Does service and fulfils
Her ritual task assigned.
I too am of their number,
A moon-lady of heaven.
"Mine is the fruit of the moon-tree, 6 yet came I to the East incarnate 7
Dwelt with the people of Earth, and gave them
A gift of music, song-dance of Suruga.
Now upon earth trail the long mists of Spring;
Who knows but in the valleys of the moon
The heavenly moon-tree puts her blossom on?
The blossoms of her crown win back their glory:
It is the sign of Spring.
Not heaven is here, but beauty of the wind and sky.
Blow, blow, you wind, and build
Cloud-walls across the sky, lest the vision leave us
Of a maid divine!
This tint of springtime in the woods,
This colour on the headland,
Snow on the mountain 8
Moonlight on the clear shore, --
Which fairest? Nay, each peerless
At the dawn of a Spring day.
Waves lapping, wind in the pine-trees whispering
Along the quiet shore.
Say you, what cause
Has Heaven to be estranged
From us Earth-men; are we not children of the Gods,
Within, without the jewelled temple wall, 8
Born where no cloud dares dim the waiting moon,
Land of Sunrise?"
May our Lord's life
Last long as a great rock rubbed
Only by the rare trailing
Of an angel's feather-skirt. 10
Oh, marvellous music!
The Eastern song joined
To many instruments;
Harp, zither, pan-pipes, flute,
Belly their notes beyond the lonely clouds.
The sunset stained with crimson light
From Mount Sumeru's side; 11
For green, the islands floating on the sea;
For whiteness whirled
A snow of blossom blasted
By the wild winds, a white cloud
Of sleeves waving.
[ Concluding the dance, she folds her hands and prays. ]
NAMU KIMYO GWATTEN-SHI.
To thee, O Monarch of the Moon,
Be glory and praise,
Thou son of Seishi Omnipotent! 12
This is a dance of the East.[ She dances three of the five parts of the dance called "Yo no Mai," the Prelude Dance. ]
I am robed in sky, in the empty blue of heaven.
Now she is robed in a garment of mist, of Spring mist.
[ She dances "Ha no Mai" the Broken Dance. ]
Wonderful in perfume and colour, an angel's skirt, -- left, right, left, left, right.[ Springing from side to side. ]
The skirt swishes, the flowers nod, the feathery sleeves trail out and return, the dancing-sleeves.
She has danced many dances,
But not yet are they numbered,
The dances of the East.
And now she, whose beauty is as the young moon,
Shines on us in the sky of midnight,
The fifteenth night,
With the beam of perfect fulfilment,
The splendor of Truth.
The vows 13 are fulfilled, and the land we live in
Rich with the Seven Treasures
By this dance rained down on us,
The gift of Heaven.
But, as the hours pass by,
Sky-cloak of feathers fluttering, fluttering,
Over the pine-woods of Mio,
Past the Floating Islands, through the feet of the clouds she flies,
Over the mountain of Ashitaka, the high peak of Fuji,
Very faint her form,
Mingled with the mists of heaven;
Now lost to sight.