Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Carpe Diem #1358 Green Willow

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Welcome at the penultimate episode of January 2018. Today I have another nice Japanese fairy tale for your inspiration, Green Willow, and I love to share a few "willow" haiku first, but first a tanka:

autumn departs
in deep silence willow leaves fall -
tears on this grave
as the willow is green again
another year has gone

© Chèvrefeuille

And here a few haiku themed "willow":

to sweep the garden
before I leave
falling willow leaves

© Basho (1644-1694)

tears of a geisha
her virginity lost to a soldier -
pussy willow blooms

© Chèvrefeuille
And to close this "introduction" a renown Tanka by Saigyo. A Tanka that inspired a lot of haiku poets, classical and non-classical, to create haiku.

along side the path
fresh water flows, and
in the willow’s shade
just for a little while
would I take my ease..

© Saigyo (1118-1190)

Green Willow:

Tomodata, the young samurai, owed allegiance to the Lord of Noto. He was a soldier, a courtier, and a poet. He had a sweet voice and a beautiful face, a noble form and a very winning address. He was a graceful dancer, and excelled in every manly sport. He was wealthy and generous and kind. He was beloved by rich and by poor.Now his daimyo, the Lord of Noto, wanted a man to undertake a mission of trust. He chose Tomodata, and called him to his presence.“Are you loyal?” said the daimyo.“My lord, you know it,” answered Tomodata.“Do you love me, then?” asked the daimyo.“Ay, my good lord,” said Tomodata, kneeling before him.“Then carry my message,” said the daimyo. “Ride and do not spare your beast. Ride straight, and fear not the mountains nor the enemies’ country. Stay not for storm nor any other thing. Lose your life; but betray not your trust. Above all, do not look any maid between the eyes. Ride, and bring me word again quickly.”Thus spoke the Lord of Noto.

Green Willow (painting by Warwick Goble)

So Tomodata got him to horse, and away he rode upon his quest. Obedient to his lord’s commands, he spared not his good beast. He rode straight, and was not afraid of the steep mountain passes nor of the enemies’ country. Ere he had been three days upon the road the autumn tempest burst, for it was the ninth month. Down poured the rain in a torrent. Tomodata bowed his head and rode on. The wind howled in the pine-tree branches. It blew a typhoon. The good horse trembled and could scarcely keep its feet, but Tomodata spoke to it and urged it on. His own cloak he drew close about him and held it so that it might not blow away, and in this wise he rode on.

autumn tempest burst
rain poured down in a torrent
howling wind

© Chèvrefeuille

The fierce storm swept away many a familiar landmark of the road, and buffeted the samurai so that he became weary almost to fainting. Noontide was as dark as twilight, twilight was as dark as night, and when night fell it was as black as the night of Yomi, where lost souls wander and cry. By this time Tomodata had lost his way in a wild, lonely place, where, as it seemed to him, no human soul inhabited. His horse could carry him no longer, and he wandered on foot through bogs and marshes, through rocky and thorny tracks, until he fell into deep despair.

lost souls wander and cry
voices from times long ago
seek for inner peace

© Chèvrefeuille

“Alack!” he cried, “must I die in this wilderness and the quest of the Lord of Noto be unfulfilled?”
At this moment the great winds blew away the clouds of the sky, so that the moon shone very brightly forth, and by the sudden light Tomodata saw a little hill on his right hand. Upon the hill was a small thatched cottage, and before the cottage grew three green weeping-willow trees.

Green Willow

“Now, indeed, the gods be thanked!” said Tomodata, and he climbed the hill in no time. Light shone from the chinks of the cottage door, and smoke curled out of a hole in the roof. The three willow trees swayed and flung out their green streamers in the wind. Tomodata threw his horse’s rein over a branch of one of them, and called for admittance to the longed-for shelter.
green willows
swaying in the wind like dancers
owls cry

© Chèvrefeuille

At once the cottage door was opened by an old woman, very poorly but neatly clad.
“Who rides abroad upon such a night?” she asked, “and what wills he here?”“I am a weary traveller, lost and benighted upon your lonely moor. My name is Tomodata. I am a samurai in the service of the Lord of Noto, upon whose business I ride. Show me hospitality for the love of the gods. I crave food and shelter for myself and my horse.”
As the young man stood speaking the water streamed from his garments. He reeled a little, and put out a hand to hold on by the side-post of the door.
“Come in, come in, young sir!” cried the old woman, full of pity. “Come in to the warm fire. You are very welcome. We have but coarse fare to offer, but it shall be set before you with great good-will. As to your horse, I see you have delivered him to my daughter; he is in good hands.”

Green Willow

At this Tomodata turned sharply round. Just behind him, in the dim light, stood a very young girl with the horse’s rein thrown over her arm. Her garments were blown about and her long loose hair streamed out upon the wind. The samurai wondered how she had come there. Then the old woman drew him into the cottage and shut the door. Before the fire sat the good man of the house, and the two old people did the very best they could for Tomodata. They gave him dry garments, comforted him with hot rice wine, and quickly prepared a good supper for him.
Presently the daughter of the house came in, and retired behind a screen to comb her hair and to dress afresh. Then she came forth to wait upon him. She wore a blue robe of homespun cotton. Her feet were bare. Her hair was not tied nor confined in any way, but lay along her smooth cheeks, and hung, straight and long and black, to her very knees. She was slender and graceful. Tomodata judged her to be about fifteen years old, and knew well that she was the fairest maiden he had ever seen.

combing her hair
graceful and full of sensuality
her firm breasts

smiling like a god send being
she embraces her lover

© Chèvrefeuille

Rice Wine

At length she knelt at his side to pour wine into his cup. She held the wine-bottle in two hands and bent her head. Tomodata turned to look at her. When she had made an end of pouring the wine and had set down the bottle, their glances met, and Tomodata looked at her full between the eyes, for he forgot altogether the warning of his daimyo, the Lord of Noto.
“Maiden,” he said, “what is your name?”She answered: “They call me the Green Willow.”“The dearest name on earth,” he said, and again he looked her between the eyes. And because he looked so long her face grew rosy red, from chin to forehead, and though she smiled her eyes filled with tears.
Ah me, for the Lord of Noto’s quest!
Then Tomodata made this little song:
“Long-haired maiden, do you know
That with the red dawn I must go?
Do you wish me far away?
Cruel long-haired maiden, say—
Long-haired maiden, if you know
That with the red dawn I must go,
Why, oh why, do you blush so?”
And the maiden, the Green Willow, answered:
“The dawn comes if I will or no;
Never leave me, never go.
My sleeve shall hide the blush away.
The dawn comes if I will or no;
Never leave me, never go.
Lord, I lift my long sleeve so….”
“Oh, Green Willow, Green Willow …” sighed Tomodata.


And the story goes on ... you can find the last part of this fairytale on our "The Story Goes On" page above in the menu.

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until February 5th at noon (CET). I will try to publish our last episode of this month, The Tea-Kettle, later on. For now ... have fun!

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