Textkit Decameron

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jeidsath
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Textkit Decameron

Post by jeidsath » Tue Mar 17, 2020 9:28 pm

Post your interesting "Novels or Fables or Parables or Stories", not necessarily classical. (It should ideally be short enough to fit in a post though.)
Joel Eidsath -- jeidsath@gmail.com

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jeidsath
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Joined: Mon Dec 30, 2013 2:42 pm
Location: Γαλεήπολις, Οὐισκόνσιν

Re: Textkit Decameron

Post by jeidsath » Tue Mar 17, 2020 9:52 pm

From the Konjaku Monogatari Shu, translated by Naoshi Koriyama and Bruce Allen

The Nun at Ohe no Asatsuna’s Home Gives a Correct Reading of a Poem

In olden times, during the reign of Emperor Murakami, there was a literary scholar named Ohe no Asatsuna. He was an excellent scholar and he served for many years at the imperial court in the field of literature. He was always competent and finally he became Councilor of State and passed away at an age of over seventy.

Since his house was located at the corner of Nijo Street and Kyogoku Avenue, it had a very good view over the riverbed to the east. From it, one could view the moon very beautifully. Many years after Asatsuna’s death, on the night of August 15, the moon was magnificently beautiful, and so a group of about a dozen lovers of literature got together and thought of holding a moon-viewing party. “Let’s go to the house of the late Asatsuna,” they said. And so they went.

When they saw the compound, it was old and desolate and it seemed to have no humans living in it. Its buildings were ram-shackle, and only the one for cooking remained standing. They sat on the broken verandah and viewed the moon, reciting poems. There was one poem that read:

I stand on the sand of the river’s shore,
a shawl on my shoulder in clear autumn air.
The moon climbs the hundred-foot-high tower
of Changan Castle.

It was written by a Chinese poet of the Tang Dynasty on the night of August 15, while he was viewing the moon. The group recited this poem and was talking about the late Asatsuna’s literary excellence when a nun appeared from the northeast direction and asked, “Who are you, reciting this poem?” They answered, “We have come to view the moon. And who, might we ask, are you?” The nun replied, “I served the late councilor, and now I am the only one left. There were many men and women who served at this house, but all are now gone now, and I am the only one left and I may be gone today or tomorrow.” Those in the poetry group were deeply touched by the nun’s words and some shed tears.

Then the nun said, “Just now you read, ‘The moon climbs the hundred-foot-high tower of Changan Castle.’ The late councilor, however, read it: ‘I climb the hundred-foot-high tower by the light of the moon.’ Your reading differs from that of the late councilor. How could the moon climb the tower? It is people who climb a tower to view the moon.” Hearing this, all were impressed by the nun’s remark and they shed tears.

They asked, “What kind of person were you in the past?” The nun replied, “I used to wash and stretch pieces of kimonos at the house of the late councilor. Because I used to hear the master reciting that poem all the time, I remembered it when I heard you reciting it.” They went on to talk with the nun all through the night and gave her gifts, and finally they returned home at dawn.

We can see that Asatsuna’s family tradition was refined. Even his lowly maidservant was like that. How much more refined then, must have been Asatsuna’s literary talent? And such then is the story as it has been handed down to us.
Joel Eidsath -- jeidsath@gmail.com

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