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Genji Monogatari, by Lady Murasaki Shikibu, tr. Suematsu Kencho, [1900], at

p. 170



The troubles of Genji increased day by day, and the world became irksome to him. One incident, however, deserves a brief notice before we enter into the main consequences of these troubles.

There was a lady who had been a Niogo at the Court of the late ex-Emperor, and who was called Reikeiden-Niogo, from the name of her chamber. She had borne no child to him, and after his death she, together with a younger sister, was living in straitened circumstances. Genji had long known both of them, and they were often aided by the liberality with which he cheerfully assisted them, both from feelings of friendship, and out of respect to his late father.

He, at this time, kept himself quiet at his own home, but he now paid these ladies a visit one evening, when the weather, after a long-continued rain, had cleared up. He conversed with them on topics of past times until late in the evening. The waning moon threw her faint light over the tall trees standing in the garden, which spread their dark shadows over the ground. From among them an orange-tree in full blossom poured forth its sweet perfume, and a Hototo-gisu 1 flew over it singing most enchantingly.

"Ah! how he recollects his own friend!" said Genji, and continued:—

"To this home of "falling flower,"
    The odors bring thee back again,
  And now thou sing’st, in evening hour,
    Thy faithful loving strain."

p. 171

To this the elder lady replied:—

"At the home where one lives, all sadly alone,
    And the shadow of friendship but seldom is cast,
  These blossoms reach the bright days that are gone
    And bring to our sadness the joys of the past."

[paragraph continues] And, after a long and friendly conversation, Genji returned to his home. One may say that the character of Genji was changeable, it is true, yet we must do him justice for his kindheartedness to his old acquaintances such as these two sisters, and this would appear to be the reason why he seldom estranged the hearts of those whom he liked.


170:1 The name of a small bird which appears about the time when the orange trees are in blossom. It sings, and is most active in the evening. In poetry, therefore, the orange blossom and this bird are associated, and they are both, the blossom and the bird, emblems of old memories.

Next: Chapter XII: Exile at Suma