Pine Barrens (Pt. III)

(Editor’s note: the below is the Machi-utai through Kiri section of Greg Giovanni’s “Pine Barrens.” This follows after the ai-kyogen interlude (in this case a comic retelling of the story by three mosquitoes.) The child has returned in his true form as the Jersey Devil and entreats the Wiccans (Waki & Wakitsure) to leave the protection of their magic circle, and join the ranks of his victims. The Wiccans resist his efforts through their prayers, and as dawn arrives they drive him off.)


In the distance, I see a green luster. Someone is beckoning with a lamp for us to leave our circle. It is an evil force.
Stand ready.

Under moist and moonless sky—a beckoning light
Under moist and moonless sky —a beckoning light
Compelling us to wander towards the lurid glow.
Sallow beam calling us on— the perimeter fading
The Pine Barren calling us away and away.
Wondering which light wanders deep in the barren.
Wondering which light wanders deep in the barren.

Deha Entrance Music

Wretched faces in mire, my family of death.
A sadness so deep it can only hate.
Blind with sorrow, unable to contain the rage,

Eyes of lost men full of watery fear.

Now the night is mine.

Swamp mouth breaks open.
Salty drops hanging on flesh.

My light. My light a power pulling you closer.
I cry out;

Leave the protected circle

Become one of the lost.

Uta (chunori)
From darkest hell to the pines, comes the lost child.
Shrieking pines tottering, the Devil stands laughing,
Child calling: “Foolish ones come play with me.
You mouth useless prayers and hold your trinkets high.
Treetops bending from heaven, conceal the sky above.
Twisted vines rear up, arms of needles thrash
A circle, once crossed, is washed away.”

Pines lurch forward, arms enclose the sacred ring.
Pines lurch forward, arms enclose the sacred ring.
Evergreen black with death—
The priests pray. They pray
In rising voice, bellowed magic falls soundless,
choking in the dark.
Swelling vines, wailing furies, strangling the night.
Dark confusion thundering. Does the earth still turn?
How strong your prayers against the din of night?

The night rages on.


Sinking to the filthy earth,
the demon’s pleading scream echos:
Let me kill you! I must have you!

Born in a tar-paper shack, born bereft of hope,
The soul never had a chance; innocence plundered.
Taught only to kill and count in the darkness.
The shameful mound to climb—counting backwards up from hell.
Grasping at his darkest need, he flies above the trees.

Ceaseless waves of prayer break past the devil’s spell
Ancient guardians of the earth from their towers watch—
Protecting their children with devotions chanted.
The ocean of man swells, billows of light and faith.
Crys grow weak and desperate; a childish rage.

If not these, then some others will float through my swamp.

Sky streaked blue with frail new light, morning spirits awake
Churning swamp is but turning earth—decay’s domain
Earth mother’s gentle hand has never left the cradle.
Quiet embrace, heaven’s light, hush the barren pine.

In the stillness, a whining cry pierces the dawn.
A whining cry pierces the dawn.


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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