(THE FLOWER BASKET)
By KWANAMI; REVISED BY SEAMI
BEFORE he came to the throne, the Emperor Keitai 1 loved the Lady Teruhi. On his accession he sent her a letter of farewell and a basket of flowers. In the play the messenger meets her On the road to her home; she reads the letter, which in elaborately ceremonial language announces the Emperor's accession and departure to the Capital.
The Spring of our love is passed! Like a moon left lonely
In the sky of dawn, back to the hills I go,
To the home where once we dwelt.
(She slips quietly from the stage, carrying the basket and letter. In the next scene the EMPEROR 2 is carried on to the stage in a litter borne by two attendants. It is the coronation procession. Suddenly TERUHI, who has left her home distraught, wanders on to the stage followed by her maid, who carries the flower-basket and letter.)
TERUHI (speaking wildly).
Ho, you travellers! Show me the road to the Capital! I am mad, you say?
Mad I may be; but love bids me ask. O heartless ones! why will they not answer me?
Madam, from these creatures we shall get no answer. Yet there is a sign that will guide our steps to the City. Look, yonder the wild-geese are passing!
Oh well-remembered! For southward ever
The wild-geese pass
Through the empty autumn sky; and southward lies
The city of my lord.
Then follows the "song of travel," during which Teruhi and her companion are supposed to be journeying from their home in Echizen to the Capital in Yamato. They halt at last on the hashigakari, announcing that they have "arrived at the City." Just as a courtier (who together with the boy-Emperor and the two litter-bearers represents the whole coronation procession) is calling: "Clear the way, clear the way! The Imperial procession is approaching," Teruhi's maid advances on to the stage and crosses the path of the procession. The courtier pushes her roughly back, and in doing so knocks the flower-basket to the ground.
Oh, look what he has done! O madam, he has dashed your basket to the ground, the Prince's flower-basket!
What! My lord's basket? He has dashed it to the ground? Oh hateful deed!
Come, mad-woman! Why all this fuss about a basket? You call it your lord's basket; what lord can you mean?
What lord should I mean but the lord of this land of Sunrise? Is there another?
Then follow a "mad dance" and song. The courtier orders her to come nearer the Imperial litter and dance again, that her follies may divert the Emperor.
She comes forward and dances the story of Wu Ti and Li Fu-jēn. 1 Nothing could console him for her death. He ordered her portrait to be painted on the walls of his palace. But, because the face neither laughed nor grieved, the sight of it increased his sorrow. p. 223 Many wizards laboured at his command to summon her soul before him. At last one of them projected upon a screen some dim semblance of her face and form. But when the Emperor would have touched it, it vanished, and he stood in the palace alone.
His Majesty commands you to show him your flower-basket.
(She holds the basket before the EMPEROR.)
His Majesty has deigned to look at this basket. He says that without doubt it was a possession of his rural days. 1 He bids you forget the hateful letter that is with it and be mad no more. He will take you back with him to the palace.
221:1 Reigned 507-531.
221:2 In this play as in all the part of Emperor is played by a young boy or "child-actor."
222:1 A Chinese Emperor of the Han dynasty and his concubine.
223:1 The time before his accession.