Lament of the Heike

Atsumori (kuse)
[By Zeami, translated and adapted by David Crandall © 2012]

The lament of the Heike
Masters of the world for twenty years and more
But in just a single generation
Swept away like a brief dream never to return
The autumn leaves of Juei fell
Torn apart by cruel storms, swirling in the wind
Scattered without hope, a boat tossed upon the waves
We lay despairing as water lapped the bow
No glory, no honor, even in dreams

Caged birds long for their beloved clouds
The ranks of wild geese are broken in midflight
We gaze upon uncertain skies, cloaks drawn closer
Day on day cast adrift on waves of passing time
Ebb and flow of seasons bring spring around again
Here at Ichinotani we take shelter
Fragile this harbor, brief refuge on the Suma shore

Mountain winds blow harshly
Sweeping downward from the hills behind

Bitter cold clutches bare fields by the waterside
Our boats huddled, never in safety, whether night or day
Plaintive cries of the plovers drenched in briny spray
Out wet sleeves are poor pillows on the rocky shore
Fisher folk share their hovels, we lie by their side
They know too well the bitter wind roaring through the pines
Sending smoke aloft from ev’ning fires
As they break and spread brushwood for their simple beds
How we long for our home far from this lonely beach
Here on this desolate sea strand we now must abide
Banished forever to this rustic place
Tragic end, a sad disgrace, for this once-proud clan

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About Theatre Nohgaku

Noh, one of the oldest continuing stage arts, combines highly stylized dance, chant, music, mask and costume with intense inner concentration and physical discipline, creating a uniquely powerful theatrical experience. Theatre Nohgaku’s mission is to share noh’s beauty and power with English speaking audiences and performers. We have found that this traditional form retains its dramatic effectiveness in languages other than Japanese. We believe noh techniques hold a powerful means of expression in the context of contemporary English language theatre.
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