The Master-Singers of Japan, by Clara A. Walsh, , at sacred-texts.com
He was born A.D. 1730 at Matsuzaka-Isé. One of the great names of Japanese literature. He was a pupil of Mabuchi. He was chiefly instrumental in restoring Shintō to its original supremacy, and revived interest in the ancient literature. His works are numerous, one of the greatest being the Commentary on the Kojiki, in forty-four volumes, which is an encyclopedia of ancient literature.
O sacred Isles! Would strangers know
The Spirit of Yamato's hero race?
Point where the cherry-blossoms blow, *
Veiling the rugged mountain's frowning face.
Sun-flushed and heavenly fair,
!Scenting the morning air!
By Shiroi Ukō
(From "Hana Momiji," 1898)
Under the shadow of the ancient firs
That clothe with sombre green the craggy height,
Again the hush of mystic silence stirs:
Whose bamboo flute speaks music to the night?
Is it some sun-bronzed fisher-lad would sigh
For other joys than those his work-day world,
Bitter with salt and seaweed, can supply—
So pours his soul in music to the sky?
Night after night he seeks the fir-grove's shade;
To the vague moonbeams filtering from above,
To the dense darkness, or the stars displayed,
Still sound those yearning cadences of love.
And first the fisher's flute was heard to play,
When a whole day had passed since courtiers proud
Of our great Lord had wandered by this way,
And the long night their revelry held sway.
They wandered forth upon the beach, the night
Rang with keen wit, and laughter unsubdued,
The while upon her course of crystal light
The Autumn moon's fair barque her course pursued.
A day had passed, since ladies of our Lord,
Mooring their pleasure-barge, in revel gay,
Tuned all their golden lutes in sweet accord
With the wind's song that through the fir-tops soared.
On nights when the dew fell coldly
On the reeds of the sullen shore,
He came—and his flute sang boldly
To the waves, and the swirling roar
Of the winds of the pines, in the distant crags
As its fierce gusts downward tore.
On nights when the hail beat wildly
And the waves on the beach ice-bound,
He came—and his flute sang mildly,
Subdued with a mournful sound.
On nights when the rain poured madly
And merged with the sea's weird moan,
He came—and his flute sang sadly,
Languid and faint of tone.
Changed has the Autumn-moon to-night,
So long his love endures, p. 111
And still with ever-new delight
The bamboo flute allures.
With the wild storm's acclaim,
Troubled its notes became;
Echoes from pine-trees blown,
Clear grew its liquid tone;
Mad with the maddened sea,
Frenzied its song would be!
Stifled with rocks wave-swept,
Dully its slow notes crept.
Even the cloud that floats
Over Onoyé stayed,
Listening to silver notes,
Then to some fainter played.
What wonder, there descends
From the high bower
Some one absorbed in thought
At this still hour!
Awhile the flute had ceased to pour
Its importunities to earth and sky;
But hark! how, louder than before,
The music of the bamboo thrills on high.
Now a new harmony the air pervades,
And in accord, how sweetly! with the flute;
Clear as the trill of warbler in the glades
Ring the soft accents of a golden lute!
Sometime the clouds from Onoyé descending
From the pine-scented rocks beneath them bore,
On their wide wings, the sweet musicians, tending
To those fair seas whereon, with altered helm,
The moon's fair barque steered straight towards them, wending
Her course eternal to the eternal Realm.
108:* The wild cherry-blossom—yama-zakura—is, in Japan, the emblem of the warrior, ready to die for Emperor and country, in the full vigour of life and beauty, as the petals of the Sakura blossom flutter, still lovely and fragrant, to the earth.