Act 3

Spring afternoon. A ruined mansion in the hills with a household shrine of Kannon. A Pagoda on a mountain in the distance. Kolha weaving at her loom and singing to her baby.

Kolha

Nen-neko-yo,
Nen-neko-yo,
Shall I sing to you of heroes bold,
Whose falcon gaze the enemy dismayed ?
Shall I sing of dragon-swords,
Of wizards weird and demons dread ?
Nen-neko-yo,
On the beach of noontide ebbing
Breaks the murmur of drowsy bees.
The foaming crests of brilliant flowers
Rise and fall in billows of light.
Spread are the sails of butterflies' wings,
Wafting your dream to regions afar.
Sleep baby, sleep,
While you sleep
Your mother shall weave
Dainty garments, darling mine.
If it be spring,
A misty blue you shall wear,
With tiny birds in silver wrought.
If summer, a melting green
With sweeping swallows and bamboos gay.

A thread snaps.

A russet brocade
In autumn shall array you,
With fallow deer calling their mates
Among maples and ivies aglow.
In winter a satin
Of twilight gold in snow fading
With shadowy pines and flitting swans.

Threads snap again and again.

What ails the loom today ?
Again and again the thread has broken.
Ill omen, sinister portent !
Does danger hover
O'er my husband or my child ?
Prayer I shall offer
To the Kannon holy.

Kolha lights incense, offers flowers and prays at her household shrine. First group of pilgrims pass by the house.

Pilgrims  (Chorus)

Namuya daihino
Kannon samayo,
Jewel of the Lotus
Resplendent !
In thee our deliverance,
To thee our adoration.
On Putala's holy isle
Hushed are the waves of sorrow;
On thy peaceful shore a port we seek;
Guide our frail bark through the storm of life.

Namuya daihino
Kannon samayo,
Jewel of the Lotus
Resplendent !
In thee our deliverance,
To thee our adoration.
On Putala's holy isle
Hushed are the waves of sorrow;
On thy peaceful shore a port we seek;
Guide our frail bark through the storm of life.

Enter the second group of pilgrims and approach the house.

Pilgrims  (Chorus)

Namuya daihino
Kannon samayo,
Jewel of the Lotus
Resplendent !
In thee our deliverance,
To thee our adoration.
All being is evanescent,
All meeting must be parting;
Free us from the bond of births;
Gather us in thy golden fold.

Namuya daihino
Kannon samayo,
Jewel of the Lotus
Resplendent !
In thee our deliverance,
To thee our adoration.
All being is evanescent,
All meeting must be parting;
Free us from the bond of births;
Gather us in thy golden fold.

First male Pilgrim

In the name of Buddha
To pilgrims, alms.

Kolha brings rice on a tray and gives it to the pilgrims.

Kolha

Take my mite,
A humble of offering.

First female Pilgrim

Your seed of merit is broadly sown;
In future lives a harvest you shall reap.

Kolha

Pilgrim devout,
Whither bound ?

First female Pilgrim

To the three and thirty shrines
Of the holy saint,
Protector of womankind;
To all save one we have homage paid;
The temple yonder is the last.
Alas, our prayers are all in vain,
In misery's mire we are engulfed,

Pilgrims

Alas, our prayers are all in vain,
In misery's mire we are engulfed,

Kolha

Your prayers can never be in vain.
Tell me your tale, and if I may not help
My sympathy shall temper
The bitterness of your tears.

First female Pilgrim

We are retainers all
Of a princess kind and fair.
How strange a likeness
To her face and voice !

Female Pilgrims

How strange a likeness !
Her counterpart !   Her very self !

First male Pilgrim

There was a feud, a duel fierce,
Our princess was held captive
By a dastard knight, a craven wretch,
Her true lover by wounds disabled.

Male Pilgrims

Some say he perished,
Some say he wandered,
Senseless and raving, none knew where.

First female Pilgrim

The wheel of fortune turned;
The enemy was by a miracle slain;
Our Princess freed, her lands regained,
Sought far and wide her lost betrothed,
But of Load Yasuna not a trace.

Kolha

Yasuna !

First female Pilgrim

What moves you thus ?

Kolha

Nay, nay, proceed.

First male Pilgrim

In anguish keen and dark despair
Our Princess Kuzunoha, vowed
A pilgrimage to Kannon's shrines;
Three weary years of toil are past,
Hope in our sorrowful quest is gone;
Today at the last temple we shall pray;
Tomorrow, the veil shall Kuzunoha take.

First female Pilgrim

Farewell, farewell,
Too long have we lingered here;
In the Pagoda's shadow
She awaits us;
The booming bells to worship call.

Kolha

Raise your drooping spirits,
Your prayers will never be in vain;
Rely, rely on mercy infinite !

Exit pilgrims  (Chorus)

Namuya daihino,
Kannon samayo,
Jewel of the Lotus
Resplendent !
From star to star
Swings thy lamp;
Snowy peaks are thy altars high,
The flowers of earth thy censers pure.
Thy hymns resound and echo afar
In soughing pines and rolling sea.
Namuya daihino,
Kannon samayo,
Jewel of the Lotus
Resplendent !
In thee our deliverance,
To thee our adoration.

Kolha weeps with agony.

Enter Yasuna.

Kolha

Yasuna,
My beloved !

Yasuna

Who so pale,
Thou weepest !

Kolha

Heed it not,
'Tis the outpouring
Of my brimming joy.
Such love as thine
I ne'er deserved.

Yasuna

If joy may speaks in tears,
With mine the world will overflow.
Come away to the meadows,
Spring holds high festival;
Thou canst hear the bird's laughter.
Take thy lute; we shall sing,
For I shall make a song,
A song of Spring and of thee.
Pity the poet, he is ever vain,
Seeking applause in his lady's eyes.
Words are the widows of thought
In black and white how coldly clad !
My songs are a flimsy dyke
To stem one moment the rushing tide
Of love's fierce waters, uncontrolled.
I cannot hold thee, dear, I cannot
Bind thee in words or in rhymes enchain.
I cannot hold thee, dear, I cannot
Twine thee in my songs and call thee mine.

Kolha

Dwell not on empty forms,
Trailing shadows of transient clouds,
The rhythm of things beats and moves
In the Eternal change, the Wheel of Law.
Heardest thou not the pilgrims' chant -
All being is evanescent,
All meeting is a parting.
Behold the ruthless blast
Calling the trembling flowers to earth.

The temple bell booms and cherry-blossoms fall to the ground.

 

Flowers tender,
Whence come ye !
Whither go ye ?
Like snow-flakes ye fall,
Like snow-flakes ye melt away.

Yasuna

Strange thy mood,
Surely thou art ailing.

Kolha

A pitying voice once bade me
Through goodly deeds
Seek higher incarnation,
In Buddha's mercy trusting.

Tearing away her sleeve.

Grant me a favor.
To yonder temple take thy way.
Among the pilgrims is a lady fair
Pining for her lost betrothed.
Take her this sleeve, - it is a talisman
To bring her back her lover.
To her all happiness
To her my blessing.

Yasuna

My soul is troubled;
I cannot leave thee thus.

Kolha

Wilt thou refuse my request ?

Yasuna

If it must be.

Yasuna reluctantly leaves her, when Kolha calls him back and embraces him.

 

Yasuna !
Go !   Go !
Go !

Exit Yasuna, Kolha watching him depart.

 
Forgive, forgive my trespass
On thy trusting heart.
Full well I knew
That man must wed his kind.
Full well I knew
That the day should come
When I, a fox, must slink away.
Oft-times have I designed
To tell thee all, but was afraid
Not of thy scorn but thy compassion.
It was in gratitude
That I approached thee; then pity
Moved me for a loveloan swain,
A wounded man.
Suddenly love's lightning
Leaped on me unawares.
Gratitude, pity, all were lost
In one raging fire. I was undone.
I loved, I loved, I love thee.
Of that love was my child the fruit,
Taking up the baby.

His child, my all in all.

 

Men who ever mock at lowly beasts,
Perchance of me shall say
She was but a fox and could not care.
What do they know of love,
Of constancy, devotion, real surrender ?
More by ten thousand times we feel
The pang of passion, greed of jealousy,
That bites and tears our very entrails.

To the baby.

Search me not with those speaking eyes;
Call not on me when I am gone.
Soon boyhood shall claim you,
In merry pastime you shall forget.
Yet even in your maddest pranks,
Steal no bird's-nest, entrap no rabbits' young.
And may no idle tongue reveal
That baser blood you share.

Taking the jewel from her hair.

My magic stone to you I leave,
Power and knowledge to bestow.
What need I now of powers and charms,
An empty shell, bereft of love ?
To my former haunts I shall return,
A cowering beast, a quarry foul,
Hunted, baited, and devoured by dogs.
Through the moonless night of howling storms,
In fear and hunger I shall prowl alone.

Kolha gradually loses her power of retaining the human shape. Her hands turn into paws. She embraces the child with difficulty. She essays to leave a written message, but finds it impossible to hold a pen. She clutches it in her mouth and writes on the wall. Then, as the song of the pilgrims approaches she leaps through a window into the forest.

Pilgrims  (Chorus)

From star to star swings thy lamp;
The snowy peaks are thy altars high,
The flowers of earth thy censers pure.
Thy hymn resounds and echoes afar
In soughing pines and rolling sea.
Glory, glory to the Saint,
Glory, glory to the Saint.
Our prayers were not in vain;
A miracle was granted.
Glory, glory to the Saint,
Glory, glory to the Saint.
Our prayers were not in vain;
A miracle was granted.

Enter Yasuna and Kuzunoha hand in hand. They read the writing on the wall.

Yasuna and Kuzunoha

"In thy bosom
Kolha leaves her heart."

 

Kolha !   Kolha !   Kolha !

Kuzunoha  (taking up the baby).

Into her bosom
Kuzunoha takes thy heart.

Yasuna falls on his knees and prays.

Curtain.