Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

15 January 2013

The Pillow of Kantan

While I eat dinner every night I have been slowly reading through Royall Tyler's delightful collection Japanese Nō Dramas. I started reading this last term while I was teaching Nō theatre, and have continued reading, though the term has ended and I should probably be reading other things. Still, I find these plays beautiful, and it is nice to spend just a little time each day with their poetry.

Tonight I sat down to a play called Kantan, probably written by Zeami's son-in-law Komparu Zenchiku, and I was rewarded with the following lovely passage:

I had thought it night
yet day has dawned;
had thought day risen,
yet the moon is bright.
With spring flowers blooming on the bough,
autumn leaves father their deep hues.
Ah, here is summer!
No, for snow is falling.
So the seasons turn before my eyes.
spring and summer, autumn, winter;
trees and grasses bloom within a day.
How beautiful, how wondrous a sight!
So time passes and the years slip by
so time passes and the years slip by,
till fifty years of glory reach an end,
and melt away to nothing. They are gone,
for all these things happened in a dream.