Genji Monogatari, by Lady Murasaki Shikibu, tr. Suematsu Kencho, , at sacred-texts.com
EXILE AT SUMA
Genji at last made up his mind to undergo a voluntary exile, before the opinion of the Imperial Court should be publicly announced against him. He heard that the beautiful sea-coast along Suma was a most suitable place for retirement, and that, though formerly populous, there were now only a few fishermen's dwellings scattered here and there. To Suma he finally determined to go into voluntary exile.
When he had thus made up his mind he became somewhat regretful to leave the capital, although it had hitherto appeared ungenial. The first thing which disturbed his mind was the young Violet, whom he could not take with him. The young lady, also, in the "Villa of Falling Flowers" (notwithstanding that he was not a frequent visitor) was another object of his regret.
In spite of these feelings he prepared to set off at the end of March, and at length it came within a few days of the time fixed for his departure, when he went privately, under the cover of the evening, to the mansion of the ex-Sadaijin, in an ajiro carriage, generally used by women. He proceeded into the inner apartments, where he was greeted by the nurse of his little child. The boy was growing fast, was able to stand by this time and to toddle about, and run into Genji's arms when he saw him. The latter took him on his knee, saying, "Ah! my good little fellow, I have not seen you for some time, but you do not forget me, do you?" The ex-Sadaijin now entered. He said, "Often have I thought of coming to have a talk with you, but you see my health has been very bad of late, and I seldom appear at Court, having resigned my office. It would be impolitic to give cause to be talked about, and for it to be said that I stretch my old bones when private matters please me. Of course, I have no particular reason to fear the
world; still, if there is anything dreadful, it is the demagogical world. When I see what unpleasant things are happening to you, which were no more probable than that the heavens should fall, I really feel that everything in the world is irksome to me."
"Yes, what you say is indeed true," replied Genji. "However, all things in the world—this or that—are the outcome of what we have done in our previous existence. Hence if we dive to the bottom we shall see that every misfortune is only the result of our own negligence. Examples of men's losing the pleasures of the Court are, indeed, not wanting. Some of these cases may not go so far as a deprivation of titles and honors, as is mine; 1 still, if one thus banished from the pleasures of Court, behaves himself as unconcernedly as those to whom no such misfortune has happened, this would not be becoming. So, at least, it is considered in a foreign country. Repentance is what one ought to expect in such circumstances, and banishment to a far-off locality is a measure generally adopted for offences different from ordinary ones. If I, simply relying on my innocence, pass unnoticed the recent displeasure of the Court, this would only bring upon me greater dishonor. I have, therefore, determined to go into voluntary exile, before receiving such a sentence from the Court."
Then the conversation fell back, as usual, on the times of the late ex-Emperor, which made them sad; while the child also, who innocently played near, made them still more gloomy. The ex-Sadaijin went on to say:—"There is no moment when I ever forget the mother of the boy, but now I almost dare to think that she was fortunate in being short lived, and being free from witnessing the dreamlike sorrow we now suffer. With regard to the boy, the first thing which strikes me as unbearable is that he may pass some time of his lovely childhood away from the gaze of your eyes. There are, as you say, no want of instances of persons suffering a miserable fate, without having committed any real offence; yet still, in such cases, there was some pretext to justify their being so treated. I cannot see any such against you."
While he was thus speaking Tô-no-Chiûjiô joined them, and, partaking of saké, they continued their conversation till
late in the evening. This night Genji remained in the mansion.
Early the next morning he returned to his own residence, and he spent the whole day with Violet in the western wing. It should here be noticed that she was scarcely ever with her father, even from childhood. He strongly disapproved of his daughter being with Genji, and of the way in which she had been carried off, so he scarcely ever had any communication with her, or did he visit her. These circumstances made her feel Genji's affection more keenly than she otherwise would have; hence her sorrow at the thought of parting with him in a few days may be easily imagined.
Towards the evening Prince Sotz came with Tô-no-Chiûjiô and some others to pay him a visit. Genji, in order to receive them, rose to put on one of his Naoshi, which was plain, without pattern, as proper for one who had no longer a title. Approaching the mirror, to comb his hair, he noticed that his face had grown much thinner.
"Oh, how changed I appear," he exclaimed. "Am I really like this image which I see of myself?" he said, turning to the girl, who cast on him a sad and tearful glance. Genji continued:
To this Violet replied:—
[paragraph continues] As she said this she turned her face to one side of the room, and by doing so obscured the tears gathering in her soft eyes. Genji then left her to receive his friends, who, however, did not remain long, leaving the mansion after a short conversation of a consolatory nature. This evening Genji paid his visit to the sisters of the "Falling Flower" villa.
On the following day the final arrangements necessary for his household affairs were made at his residence. The management of the mansion was intrusted to a few confidential friends; while that of his lands and pasture, and the charge of
his documents, were intrusted to the care of Violet, to whom he gave every instruction what she should do. Besides, he enjoined Shiônagon, in whom he placed his confidence, to give her every assistance. He told all the inmates who wished to remain in the mansion, in order to await his return, that they might do so. He also made an appropriate present to the nurse of his boy, and to the ladies of the "Villa of Falling Flowers." When all these things were accomplished, he occupied himself in writing farewell letters to his intimate friends, such as the young daughter of Udaijin and others, to none of whom he had paid a visit.
On the evening prior to his departure he went on horseback to visit the tomb of his father. On his way he called on the Princess Wistaria, and thence proceeded to the mountain where the remains reposed. The tomb was placed among tall growing grass, under thick and gloomy foliage. Genji advanced to the tomb, and, half kneeling down before it, and half sobbing, uttered many words of remembrance and sorrow. Of course no reply came forth. The moon by this time was hidden behind dark clouds, and the winds blew keen and nipping, when suddenly a shadowy phantom of the dead stood before Genji's eyes.
[paragraph continues] He returned to his mansion late in the night.
Early in the morning he sent a letter to Ô Miôbu, the nurse of the Heir-apparent, in which he said: "I at last leave the capital, to-day. I know not when I may come and see the Prince again. On him my thoughts and anxieties are concentrated, above all else. Realize these feelings in your own mind, and tell them to him." He also sent the following, fastened to a bough of cherry flowers, already becoming thin:—
[paragraph continues] These were carefully read by Ô Miôbu to the Prince, and when he was asked what she should write in answer, he said: "Write that I said that since I feel every longing to see him, when I do not see him for a long time, how shall I feel when he goes away altogether?" Thereupon she wrote an answer, in which she indefinitely stated that she had shown the letter to the Prince, whose answer was simple, yet very affectionate, and so on, with the following:—
[paragraph continues] Now, with regard to the recent disgrace of Genji, the public in general did not approve of the severity which the Court had shown to him. Moreover, he had been constantly with the Emperor, his father, since the age of seven, and his requests had been always cheerfully listened to by the latter; hence there were very many, especially among public servants of the ordinary class, who were much indebted to him. However, none of them now came to pay their respects to him. It seems that in a world of intrigue none dares do what is right for fear of risking his own interests. Such being the state of things, Genji, during the whole day, was unoccupied, and the time was entirely spent with Violet. Then, at his usual late hour in the evening, he, in a travelling dress of incognito, at length left the capital, where he had passed five-and-twenty years of his life.
His attendants, Koremitz and Yoshikiyo being among them, were seven or eight in number. He took with him but little luggage. All ostentatious robes, all unnecessary articles of luxury were dispensed with. Among things taken, was a box containing the works of Hak-rak-ten (a famous Chinese poet), with other books, and besides these a kin-koto for his amusement. They embarked in a boat and sailed down the river. Early the next morning they arrived at the sea-coast of Naniwa. They noticed the Ôye Palace standing lonely amidst the group of pine trees. The sight of this palace gave a thrill of sadness to Genji, who was now leaving, and not returning, home. He saw the waves rolling on the coast and again sweep back. He hummed, as he saw them:—
[paragraph continues] From Naniwa they continued their voyage, sailing in the bay. As they proceeded they looked back on the scenes they had left. They saw all the mountains veiled in haze, growing more and more distant, while the rowers gently pulled against the rippling waves. It seemed to them as if they were really going "three thousand miles' distance." 2
[paragraph continues] The day was long and the wind was fair, so they soon arrived at the coast of Suma. 3 The place was near the spot where the exiled Yukihira had lived, and had watched the beautiful smoke rising from the salt ovens. There was a thatched house in which the party temporarily took up their residence. It was a very different home from what they had been used to, and it might have appeared even novel, had the circumstances of their coming there been different. The authorities of the neighborhood were sent for, and a lodge was built under the direction of Yoshikiyo, in accordance with Genji's wishes. The work was hurried on, and the building was soon completed. In the garden, several trees, cherries and others, were planted, and water was also conducted into it. Here Genji soon took up his abode. The Governor of the province, who had been at Court, secretly paid attention to the Prince, with as much respect as was possible.
For some time Genji did not feel settled in his new residence. When he had become in some degree accustomed to it, the season of continuous rain had arrived (May); his thoughts more than ever reverted to the old capital.
The thoughtful expression of Violet's face, the childish affection of the Heir-apparent, and the innocent playfulness of his little son, became the objects of his reveries and anxiety, nor did he forget his old companions and acquaintances. He, therefore, sent a special messenger to the capital bearing his letters, so that speedy answers might be returned from every quarter. He also sent a messenger to Ise to make inquiry after the lady, who also sent one to him in return.
Now the young daughter of Udaijin had been remaining repentingly in the mansion of her father since the events of
the stormy evening. Her father felt much for her, and interceded with the Empress-mother in her behalf, and also with her son, that is, the Emperor, thus getting permission to introduce her once more into Court, an event which took place in the month of July.
To return to Suma. The rainy season had passed, and autumn arrived. The sea was at some distance from the residence of Genji, but the dash of its waves sounded close to their ears as the winds passed by, of which Yukihira sang,
[paragraph continues] The autumn winds are, it seems, in such a place as this, far more plaintive than elsewhere.
It happened one evening that when all the attendants were fast asleep Genji was awake and alone. He raised his head and rested his arms on his pillow and listened to the sound of the waves which reached his ear from a distance. They seemed nearer than ever, as though they were coming to flood his pillows. He drew his koto towards him and struck a melancholy air, as he hummed a verse of a poem in a low tone. With this every one awoke and responded with a sigh.
Such was a common occurrence in the evening, and Genji always felt saddened whenever he came to think that all his attendants had accompanied him, having left their families and homes simply for his sake. In the daytime, however, there were changes. He would then enjoy pleasant conversations. He also joined several papers into long rolls on which he might practise penmanship. He spent a good deal of time in drawing and sketching. He remembered how Yoshikiyo, on one occasion in Mount Kurama, had described the beautiful scenery of the place on which he was now gazing. He sketched every beautiful landscape of the neighborhood, and collected them in albums, thinking how nice it would be if he could send for Tsunenori, a renowned contemporary artist, and get him to paint the sketches which he had made.
Out of all the attendants of Genji there were four or five who had been more especially his favorites, and who had constantly attended on him. One evening they were all sitting together in a corridor which commanded a full view of the sea. They perceived the island of Awaji lying in the distance, as if it were floating on the horizon, and also several boats with
sailors, singing as they rowed to the shore over the calm surface of the water, like waterfowl in their native element. Over their heads flocks of wild geese rustled on their way homeward with their plaintive cry, which made the thoughts of the spectators revert to their homes. Genji hummed this verse:—
Yoshikiyo took up the idea and replied:—
Then Koremitz continued
Ukon-no-Jiô was the brother of Ki-no-Kami. His father, Iyo-no-Kami, had now been promoted to be Hitachi-no-Kami (Governor of Hitachi), and had gone down to that province, but Ukon-no-Jiô did not join his father, who would have gladly taken him, and faithfully followed Genji.
This evening happened to be the fifteenth of August, on which day a pleasant reunion is generally held at the Imperial Palace. Genji looked at the silvery pale sky, and as he did so the affectionate face of the Emperor, his brother, whose expression strikingly resembled their father's, presented itself to his mind. After a deep and long sigh, he returned to his couch, humming as he went:—
It should be here noticed that he had been presented by the Emperor on a certain occasion with a robe, and this robe he had never parted with, even in his exile.
About this time Daini (the senior Secretary of the Lord-Lieutenant of Kiûsiû) returned to the capital with his family, having completed his official term. His daughter had been a virgin dancer, and was known to Genji. They preferred to travel by water, and slowly sailed up along the beautiful coast. When they arrived at Suma, the distant sound of a kin * was heard, mingled with the sea-coast wind, and they were told that Genji was there in exile. Daini therefore sent his son Chikzen-no-Kami to the Prince with these words: "Coming back from a distant quarter I expected as soon as I should arrive in the capital to have had the pleasure of visiting you and listening to your pleasant voice, and talking of events which have taken place there, but little did I think that you had taken up your residence in this part of the country. How greatly do I sympathize with you! I ought to land and see you at once, but there are too many people in the same boat, therefore I think it better to avoid the slightest grounds which may cause them to talk. However, possibly I shall pay you a visit soon."
This Chikzen-no-Kami had been for some time previously a Kurand (a sort of equerry) to Genji, therefore his visit was especially welcome to him. He said that since he had left the capital it had become difficult to see any of his acquaintances, and that therefore this especial visit was a great pleasure to him. His reply to the message of Daini was to the same effect. Chikzen-no-Kami soon took his leave, and returning to the boat, reported to his father and others all he had seen. His sister also wrote to Genji privately thus: "Pray excuse me if I am too bold.
When Genji received this, his pleasure was expressed by his placid smile, and he sent back the following:—
[paragraph continues] This recalls to our mind that there was in the olden time an exile who gave a stanza even to the postmaster of a village. 4 Why then should not Genji have sent to her whom he knew this stanza?
In the meantime, as time went on, more sympathizers with Genji were found in the capital, including no less a personage than the Emperor himself. True it is that before Genji left, many even of his relatives and most intimate friends refrained from paying their respects to him, but in the course of time not a few began to correspond with him, and sometimes they communicated their ideas to each other in pathetic poetry. These things reached the ears of the Empress-mother, who was greatly irritated by them. She said: "The only thing a man who has offended the Court should do is to keep himself as quiet as possible. It is most unpardonable that such a man should haughtily cause scandal to the Court from his humble dwelling. Does he intend to imitate the treacherous example of one who made a deer pass for a horse? 5 Those who intrigue with such a man are equally blamable." These spiteful remarks once more put a stop to the correspondence.
Meanwhile, at Suma, the autumn passed away and winter succeeded, with all its dreariness of scene, and with occasional falls of snow. Genji often spent the evening in playing upon the Kin, being accompanied by Koremitz's flute and the singing of Yoshikiyo. It was on one of these evenings that the story of a young Chinese Court lady, who had been sent to the frozen land of barbarians, occurred to Genji's mind. He thought what a great trial it would be if one were obliged to send away one whom he loved, like the lady in the tale, and as he reflected on this, with some melancholy feelings, it appeared to him as vividly as if it were only an event of yesterday, and he hummed:—
[paragraph continues] He then tried to sleep, but could not do so, and as he lay the distant cry of Chidori reached his ears. 6 He hummed again as he heard them:—
[paragraph continues] Having washed his hands, he spent some time in reading a Kiô (Satra), and in this manner the winter-time passed away.
Towards the end of February the young cherry-trees which Genji had planted in his garden blossomed, and this brought to his memory the well-known cherry-tree in the Southern Palace, and the fête in which he had taken part. The noble countenance of the late ex-Emperor, and that of the present one, the then Heir-apparent, which had struck him much at that time, returned to his recollection with the scene where he had read out his poem.
While thus meditating on the past, strange to say, Tô-no-Chiûjiô, Genji's brother-in-law, came from the capital to see the Prince. He had been now made Saishiô (privy councillor). Having, therefore, more responsibility, he had to be more cautious in dealing with the public. He had, however, a personal sympathy with Genji, and thus came to see him, at the risk of offending the Court.
The first thing which struck his eyes was, not the natural beauty of the scenery, but the style of Genji's residence, which showed the novelty of pure Chinese fashion. The enclosure was surrounded by "a trellis-work of bamboo," with "stone steps," and "pillars of pine-tree." 7
He entered, and the pleasure of Genji and Tô-no-Chiûjiô was immense, so much so that they shed tears. The style of the Prince's dress next attracted the attention of Tô-no-Chiûjiô. He was habited in a plain, simple country style, the coat being
of an unforbidden color, a dull yellow, the trousers of a subdued green.
The furniture was all of a temporary nature, with Go and Sugorok playing boards, as well as one for the game of Dagi. He noticed some articles for the services of religion, showing that Genji was wont to indulge in devotional exercises. The visitor told Genji many things on the subject of affairs in the capital, which he had been longing to impart to him for many months past; telling him also how the grandfather of his boy always delighted in playing with him, and giving him many more interesting details.
Several fishermen came with the fish which they had caught. Genji called them in and made them show their spoils. He also led them to talk of their lives spent on the sea, and each in his own peculiar local dialect gave him a narration of his joys and sorrows. He then dismissed them with the gift of some stuff to make them clothing. All this was quite a novelty to the eyes of Tô-no-Chiûjiô, who also saw the stable in which he obtained a glimpse of some horses. The attendants at the time were feeding them. Dinner was presently served, at which the dishes were necessarily simple, yet tasteful. In the evening they did not retire to rest early, but spent their time in continuing their conversation and in composing verses.
Although Tô-no-Chiûjiô had, in coming, risked the displeasure of the Court, he still thought it better to avoid any possible slander, and therefore he made up his mind to set out for his home early next morning. The saké cup was offered, and they partook of it as they hummed,
[paragraph continues] Several presents had been brought from the capital for Genji by Tô-no-Chiûjiô, and, in return, the former made him a present of an excellent dark-colored horse, and also a celebrated flute, as a token of remembrance.
As the sun shed forth his brilliant rays Tô-no-Chiûjiô took his leave, and as he did so he said, "When shall I see you again, you cannot be here long?" Genji replied,
"Yon noble crane that soars on high, 8
And hovers in the clear blue sky,
Believe my soul as pure and light;
As spotless as the spring day bright.
[paragraph continues] However, a man like me, whose fortune once becomes adverse seldom regains, even in the case of great wisdom, the prosperity he once fully enjoyed, and so I cannot predict when I may find myself again in the capital."
So Tô-no-Chiûjiô, having replied as follows:—
set off on his homeward road, leaving Genji cast down for some time.
Now the coast of Akashi is a very short distance from Suma, and there lived the former Governor of the province, now a priest, of whom we have spoken before. Yoshikiyo well remembered his lovely daughter, and, after he came to Suma with Genji, he wrote to her now and then. He did not get any answer from her, but sometimes heard from her father, to whom Genji's exile became soon known, and who wished to see him for a reason not altogether agreeable to himself. It should be remembered that this old man always entertained aspirations on behalf of his daughter, and in his eyes the successive governors of the province who came after him, and whose influence had been unbounded, were considered as nobodies. To him, his young daughter was everything; and he used to send her twice a year to visit the temple of Sumiyoshi, in order that she might obtain good fortune by the blessing of the god.
She was not of an ideal beauty, but yet expressive in countenance and exalted in mind. She could, in this respect, rival any of those of high birth in the capital.
The priest said one day to his wife, "Prince Genji, the imperial son of the Kôyi of Kiritsubo is now at Suma in exile, having offended the Court. How fortunate it would be if we could take the opportunity of presenting our child to him!"
The wife replied, "Ah, how dreadful, when I heard what the townspeople talk, I understood that he has several mistresses. He went even so far as to carry on a secret intimacy, which happened to be obnoxious to the Emperor, and it is said that this offence was the cause of his exile."
"I have some reason for mentioning this to you," he interrupted, impatiently; "it is not a thing which you understand,
so make up your mind, I shall bring the matter about, and take an opportunity of making him come to us."
"No matter how distinguished a personage he is," replied the wife, "it is a fact that he has offended the Court and is exiled. I do not understand why you could take a fancy to such a man for our maiden daughter. It is not a joking matter. I hope you will take it into graver consideration."
"That a man of ability and distinction should meet with adverse fortune is a very common occurrence," said he, still more obstinately, "both in our empire and in that of China. How then do you venture to say such things against the Prince? His mother was the daughter of an Azechi Dainagon, who was my uncle. She enjoyed a good reputation, and when she was introduced at Court, became both prosperous and distinguished. Although her life was shortened by the suffering caused by the fierce jealousy of her rivals, she left behind the royal child, who is no other person than Prince Genji. A woman should always be aspiring, as this lady was. What objection then is there in the idea of introducing our only child to a man like him? Although I am now only a country gentleman, I do not think he would withdraw his favor from me."
Such were the opinions of this old man, and hence his discouragement of the advances of Yoshikiyo.
The first of March came, and Genji was persuaded by some to perform Horai (prayer for purification) for the coming occasion of the Third. 9 He therefore sent for a calendar-priest, with whom he went out, accompanied by attendants, to the seashore. Here a tent was erected ceremoniously, and the priest began his prayers, which were accompanied by the launching of a small boat, containing figures representing human images. On seeing this Genji said,
[paragraph continues] As he contemplated the scene around him, he perceived that the wild surface of the sea was still and calm, like a mirror without
its frame. He offered prayers in profound silence, and then exclaimed,
[paragraph continues] Suddenly, as he spoke these words, the wind arose and began to blow fiercely. The sky became dark, and torrents of rain soon followed. This caused great confusion to all present, and each ran back to the house without finishing the ceremony of prayers. None of them were prepared for the storm, and all got drenched with the rain. From this the rain continued to pour down, and the surface of the sea became as it were tapestried with white, over which the lightning darted and the thunder rolled. It seemed as if thunderbolts were crashing overhead, and the force of the rain appeared to penetrate the earth. Everyone was frightened, for they thought the end of the world was near.
Genji occupied his time in quietly reading his Buddhist Bible. In the evening, the thunder became less loud, though the wind still blew not less violently than in the daytime. Everyone in the residence said that they had heard of what is termed a flood-tide, which often caused a great deal of damage, but they had never witnessed such a scene as they had that day. Genji dropped off into a slumber, when indistinctly the resemblance of a human figure came to him and said, "You are requested to come to the palace, why don't you come?"
Genji was startled by the words, and awoke. He thought that the king of the dragon palace 11 might have admired him, and was perhaps the author of this strange dream. These thoughts made him weary of remaining at Suma.
173:1 When a person was exiled, he was generally deprived of his own title, or was degraded. Genji appears to have been deprived of his.
177:2 A favorite phrase in Chinese poems describing the journey of exile.
177:3 Suma is about sixty miles from Kiôto, the then capital.
180:* A musical instrument—often called a koto.
181:4 When Sugawara, before referred to, arrived at Akashi, on his way to exile, the village postmaster expressed his surprise. Thereupon Sugawara gave him a stanza, which he composed:
"Oh, master, be not surprised to see
This change in my estate, for so
Once to bloom, and once to fade
Is spring and autumn's usual lot."
181:5 In Chinese history it is recounted that a certain artful intriguer made a fool of his Sovereign by bringing a deer to the Court and presenting it before the Emperor, declaring it to be a horse. All the courtiers, induced by his great influence, agreed with him in calling it a horse, to the Emperor's great astonishment and bewilderment
182:6 The coast along by Suma is celebrated for Chidori, a small sea-bird that always flies in large flocks. Their cries are considered very plaintive, and are often spoken of by poets.
182:7 Expressions used in a poem by Hak-rak-ten, describing a tasteful residence.
183:8 Here Tô-no-Chiûjiô is compared to the bird.
185:9 The third day of March is one of five festival days in China and Japan, when prayers for purification, or prayers intended to request the freeing one's self from the influence of fiends, are said on the banks of a river.
186:10 In the Japanese mythology the number of gods who assemble at their councils is stated to have been eight millions. This is an expression which is used to signify a large number rather than an exact one.
186:11 In Japanese mythology we have a story that there were two brothers, one of whom was always very lucky in fishing, and the other in hunting. One day, to vary their amusements, the former took his brother's bow and arrows and went to the mountain to hunt. The latter took the fishing-rod, and went to the sea, but unfortunately lost his brother's hook in the water. At this he was very miserable, and wandered abstractedly along the coast. The dragon god of the dragon palace, under the blue main, admired his beauty, and wishing him to marry his daughter, lured him into the dragon palace.