Act 1

Autumn morning. The moors of Abeno. A caste in the distance. Pheasants and hares fly and run across the stage.

Enter huntsmen with hounds and falcons. They blow conches and carry bows and arrows and spoil of chase.

First Huntsman
Areah !
Second Huntsman
Areah !
Third Huntsman
Areah !
Fourth Huntsman
Areah !
Huntsmen

Beat the bramble, beat the brae,
Blow the conch, Areah-reah !
The breeze is high, the sward is bare,
Awaken the echoes, Areah-reah !

First Huntsman
Areah !
Second Huntsman
Areah !
Huntsman

Smite the thicket, sweep the dale,
Blow the conch, Areah-reah !
Fly the hawks, twang the bow,
Awaken the echoes, Areah-reah !

Third Huntsman
Areah !
Fourth Huntsman
Areah !
Huntsmen

Tell us, O tell us why
Across Abeno's moor drive we the case ?
Our bags are full, our spoils abundant,
Our own domain we have forsaken.
On what game are we now intent ?

First Huntsman

There is a fox in the woodland here,
Wary, cunning, fleet of foot,
Her coat snowy white, Kolha her name,
Full thousand years they say she prayed
to the polar star in the winter sky
Ere she attained a magic stone.

Huntsmen

Magic stone !   Mysterious !
With what powers is it endowed ?

First Huntsman

Through its aid the fox assumes
Human shapes at her will.
Mirages she invokes, illusions she displays.
Love's wayward passions she controls.
A charmed life Kolha bears,
Free from danger known to beasts.

Huntsmen

A fairy potent !
Nought will avail our hunting,
Our arrows keen !

First Huntsman

Our master Ackeimon,
A wizard wise, learned in spells,
With fast and vigils untiring,
Has forged a dart to destroy her.
Kolha's jewel he would fain acquire
To win a princess who resists his will.
Beat the covers, the hounds unleash,
Over Abeno's moor lead the chase.

Huntsmen

Beat the bramble, beat the brae,
Blow the conch, Areah-reah !
The bleeze is high, the sward is bare,
Awaken the echoes, Areah-reah !

First Huntsman
Areah !
Second Huntsman
Areah !
Huntsmen

Smite the thicket, sweep the dale,
Blow the conch, Areah-reah !
Fly the hawks, twang the bow,
Awaken the echoes, Areah-reah !

Third Huntsman
Areah !
Fourth Huntsman
Areah !

Another flight of birds. A white fox holding a jewel in her mouth running wounded by an arrow falls in the middle of the stage.

Enter Ackeimon

Of the God Raijin have I obtained
A fatal arrow to break the spell
Of Kolha, the fairy fox.
With mystic chant from her lair enticing,
In the wood erstwhile
I shot her with unerring aim.
Far could she not stray;
I mark her stricken trail
On the frosty ground.

Conches in distance. Ackeimon searches and discovers the fox.

Ackeimon

At last
The stone is mine.

He wrenches the jewel from the mouth of the fox.

Ackeimon

Hail to thee, orb of mystery !
Restless shine thy wistful rays.
Tears of women who loved in vain
Gathered by the fairies and held
In the icy darkness of dragons' caves
Into thee have grown,
Weird crystal of mighty portent.
With thy help I shall sway
The hearts of maidens who dare mine disobey.
Sparkle, jewel !   In thy subtle gleam
I see the dancing light of Kuzunoha's eyes.
Soon shall I grasp her in my arms
And drain love's potion to my fill.
First shall I slay the fox
Lest my jewel she seek again.

Ackeimon prepares to kill the fox. Enter Yasuna.

Yasuna

Stay, stay,
Stay your hand !

Ackeimon

Who defies me ?
Why should I delay ?

Yasuna

In the name of mercy I implore you.

Ackeimon

Mercy !   Ahaha ha !
Dare you against the law of the chase
Stand between the quarry
And the archer's right ?

Yasuna

It is the part of knighthood, I have heard,
To feel the eternal sadness of things.
A harmless brute, by heaven forsaken,
why lift your arm to add to its woes ?
In the name of mercy, I implore you.

Ackeimon

Mercy !   Ahaha ha !
Truce to your weakling thought,
From priestly cant abstain.
I shall not learn knighthood
From your beardless lips.

Yasuna

Stay, O stay, Ackeimon,
Have you forgotten this day of grace,
The birthday of Kuzunoha ?
If you bear her aught of love,
For her dear sake refrain
From a cruel deed today.

Ackeimon

Kuzunoha !
Hateful Yasuna. Again you come
Between my victim and my desire.
Beasts and women are man's lawful prey.

Yasuna

Cease your reviling,
Craven knight,
On Abeno's plain I am the Lord.
Begone, at your peril
Touch a hair of its game,
A blade of its grass.
Out of my domain, begone.

They struggle. Yasuna seizes the jewel and chases Ackeimon from the stage. Yasuna withdraws the arrow and gives the fox back the jewel.

Yasuna

Take your jewel, Kolha !
Poor denizen of Night !
What grievous crimes have you committed
In your past lives, to be born
A fox, hunted and despised,
Your silky fur a menace to your life.
With all your magic power
By Ackeimon's wicked arts vanquished,
You meet the fate of common beasts.
Redeem your lot !
Through goodly deeds,
Seek higher incarnation,
In Buddha's mercy trusting.
Speed to your lair, Among hemlock swaying and ferns drooping,
The twilight calls to you !

The fox disappears in the grass. Enter damsels, and then Kuzunoha.

First damsel
We go ahunting, ahunting,
For we have lost,
Lost a heart.
Like a falcon straying,
A heart has flown
Into the mist of love,
Damsels
Into the mist of love.
First damsel
We go ahunting, ahunting,
For we have lost,
Lost a heart.
Like a rabbit fleeing
A heart has fled
Into the waste of love,
Damsels
Into the waste of love.

The damsels hide Kuzunoha with their sleeves.

First damsel
The moon, the moon,
The sleeves of cloud
The moon are hiding.
Damsels
The clouds are lifting !
The moon, the moon.
First damsel
The moon, the moon,
The sleeves of cloud
The moon are hiding.
Damsels
The clouds are lifting !
The moon, the moon.
Kuzunoha

Why so late ?
Dost thou follow the chase ?

Yasuna

I delayed to retrieve a life,
Blest be the day that saw thy birth,
Divine presence, exiled from heaven.
Gentians bowed in purple courtesy,
Chrysanthemums danced in golden delight,
A new sun in thee arose,
Filling the world with a nobler light.
I am a dewdrop lost in thy glow.

Kuzunoha

Count not my birthday
With mortal hours.
I was born when thou awakened
My timid soul to know thy love.
If thou be the dewdrop,
I am the cricket,
Drinking in thee my life, singing my fill.
If I be the sun,
Thou art the sky.
I rise and set
Within thy breast alone.

Yasuna

In thee I am.

Kuzunoha

In myself I am not.

Kuzunoha and Yasuna

Sweet mystery,
Sacred rapture.
Passions are merged
In the passion eternal.
Thoughts have vanished
In the thought supreme.
Sweet mystery,
Sacred rapture,
Nirvana of Love.

First damsel

Come, my princess,
To your bower return.

Damsels

Come, my princess,
To your bower return.
The feast is set,
The guests are gathered.
The harp is tuned, the lute is sounding,
A merry morn of song it shall be.

A tumult approaches.

First damsel

Hark !
What ominous notes
Break on my ears ?

Kuzunoha

It is Autumn
Sighing in the fading leaves.

Fire is seen breaking from the castle.

First damsel

Look !
What strange redness
Streaks the plain ?

Yasuna

It is Autumn
Blushing in the glowing leaves.

First damsel

Hark, O Hark,
The clang of arms,
The tread of war.

Damsels

Look, O look,
The flash of fire,
The castle aflame.

Yasuna

The battle-cry
Of Ackeimon's clan !

Kuzunoha

Dastard warfare,
Coward onslaught !

All

Nearer and nearer they close,
The forest of spears.
Like a whirlwind gathers the accursed band,
The moorland glistens with their shining steel.
On guard !   On guard !

All gather round Kuzunoha. Ackeimon with his soldiers and huntsmen gradually fill the stage.

Soldiers

Yield, yield,
The day is ours.
Yield, yield,
The day is ours.

Ackeimon

Yield, yield,
To me Kuzunoha surrender.
My net is drawn
Around thee, Yasuna.
Why beat your wings
Against its meshes ?
Burnt is your nest,
Your comrades slain,
No shelter can you find,
An outcast from today.

Ackeimon  (to Kuzunoha)

Forsake this homeless hound,
He whines in vain.
In love's lap cradled
Your sighs will turn to laughter.

Kuzunoha

I spurn your words,
Death is sweeter.

Yasuna

Miscreant,
My sword has but one answer.

(draws his sword)

Soldiers

Yield, yield,
To resist is madness.
Yield, yield,
To resist is madness.

Yasuna

Ackeimon !

(He rushes on Ackeimon)

Ackeimon

Soldiers, to your tasks !

(Soldiers close on Yasuna and kuzunoha)

(The damsels draw their daggers and gather around Kuzunoha, but they are overpowered. Kuzunoha is carried away by soldiers)

Kuzunoha

Yasuna !   Yasuna !

Yasuna

My love !   My love !

(Yasuna goes back to rescue Kuzunoha, and grasps her sleeve. Ackeimon stabs him in the back. He falls. Kuzunoha is borne away, leaving the torn sleeve in his hand)

Ackeimon

Ahaha ha.

Curtain.