Murasaki Shikibu

“The hanging gate, of something like trelliswork, was propped on a pole, and he could see that the house was tiny and flimsy. He felt a little sorry for the occupants of such a place--and then asked himself who in this world had a temporary shelter.

[Anonymous, Kokinshuu 987:
Where in all this world shall I call home?
A temporary shelter is my home.]

A hut, a jeweled pavilion, they were the same. A pleasantly green vine was climbing a board wall. The white flowers, he said to himself, had a rather self-satisfied look about them.
'I needs must ask the lady far yonder," he said, as if to himself.

[Anonymous, Kokinshuu 1007:
I needs must ask the lady far yonder
What flower it is off there that blooms so white.]

An attendant came up, bowing deeply. "The white flowers far off yonder are known as 'evening faces," he said. "A very human sort of name--and what a shabby place they have picked to bloom in."
It was as the man said. The neighborhood was a poor one, chiefly of small houses. Some were leaning precariously, and there were "evening faces" at the sagging eaves.
A hapless sort of flower. Pick one off for me, will you?"
The man went inside the raised gate and broke off a flower. A pretty little girl in long, unlined yellow trousers of raw silk came out through a sliding door that seemed too good for the surroundings. Beckoning to the man, she handed him a heavily scented white fan.
Put it on this. It isn't much of a fan, but then it isn't much of a flower either.”


Murasaki Shikibu, The Tale of Genji
tags: imagery, japanese
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The Tale of Genji The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu
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