Kumagai no Jirō Naozane

(Below is a reflection on the battle at Ichi-no-tani, March 18, 1184 between the Genji and Heike clans as told in the Heike Monogatari from which the noh play Atsumori is derived. Kumagai no Jirō Naozane is the warrior who becomes the monk Rensho in remorse after killing his rival Atsumori during the battle.)

The Fortress.
The Taira
gathered on
the narrow strip of shore
at Suma
but difficult to maneuver.

Minamoto no Yoshitsune divides
his force in three
in order to press the attack.

From the East
From the West and
From the North with no more
than a hundred horsemen
down from over the mountain
through the forest
they rode
like meteors from the heavens
like an unexpected avalanche.

At the chosen hour they advanced
setting fire to the fortress
firing with crossbows
and celebrating their fury.

Driven back to the beach
only a few of the Taira
mount their ships
fleeing off to Yashima.
Only a few
manage to flee.

Taira no Atsumori
was there,
run back to recover
his forgotten flute.

Kumagai no Jirō Naozane
was there,
his sword was in his hand.





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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