from Nishikigi (1914)
To dream under dream we return.
Three years! . . . And the meeting comes now!
This night has happened over and over,
And only now comes the tryst.
Look there to the cave
Beneath the stems of the Suzuki!
From under the shadows of the love-grass—
See! see how they come forth and appear—
For an instant! . . . Illusion!
There is at the root of hell
No distinction between princes and commons!
Wretched for me! ’Tis the saying.
Strange! what seemed so very old a cave
Is all glittering-bright within,
Like the flicker of a fire.
It is like the inside of a house.
They are setting up a loom
And heaping up charm-sticks. No!
The hangings are out of old time.
Is it illusion? Illusion!
Our hearts have been in the dark of the falling
We have been astray in the flurry,
You should tell better than we
How much is illusion—
You who are in the world!
We have been in the whirl of
those who are fading.
Indeed in old times Narihira said—
And as he vanished with the years—
“Let a man who is in the world tell the fact.”
It is for you,
To say how much
Let it be a dream, or a vision,
Or what you
will, I care not.
Only show me the old times over-past and snowed under!
Now! Soon! While the night lasts!
Look sharp then, for old times are shown.
Faint as the shadow-flower shows in the grass that bears it,
And you’ve but a moon for lanthorn.
The woman has gone into the cave.
She sets up her loom there
For the weaving of hosonuno,
Thin as the heart of Autumn.
The suitor for his part, holding his charm-sticks,
Knocks on a gate which was barred.
In old time he got back no answer,
No secret sound at all
Save . . . .
The sound of the loom.
It was a sweet sound like katydids and crickets—
A thin sound, like the Autumn.
It was what you would hear any night.
appeared in Poetry 4 (May 1914), pp. 35-48.
For an overview of Pound’s
Japanese interests see Ezra Pound
and the Invention of Japan in the Bibliography, and for a
note about Pound titles in print see In
a Station of the Metro.