the assembled warriors:
the chosen Samurai
But he was so young, and yet always ready, his fists tight in his pockets: how could she not admire him, her virgin champion…
He, had only eyes for her, and otherwise his work, the training, his ambition for the ring, but this was a time when he would have to fight, for her.
Slowly he turned round and faced the man who had just insulted her: a massive guy probably used to have his way: now he was calm, fearless, weighing where the first blow would fall…
So she spoke the words, her voice smoothing the dense mist of his anger, she sensed him collect himself, and then hit, a single blow, on his lips the smile of the victorious samurai…
Yukio Mishima, the last Samurai
He was one of the most gifted and original writers of his generation, straddling western modernity and, at the same time, rooted in the heroic traditions of his country, Japan. His death, following the samurai ritual of the seppuku, confirmed his uniqueness, in what he saw as an age of cowardice and pretence. Dying by his sword may have been his finest hour.
Kimitake Hiraoka – the author Yukio Mishima – was born on January 14, 1925, in the Yotsuya district of Tokyo. He was listed three times for the Nobel prize for literature. He wrote forty novels, and works of poetry, plays and Noh and Kabuki dramas. He was also an actor and directed one film. A fluent English writer and speaker, his interviews can be found here. His last work, The Sea of Fertility tetralogy, was described by Paul Theroux as “the most complete vision that we have of Japan in the twentieth century.”
This piece is inspired by the driving rain of the past week, and an article I read about gender and Bushido.
Their ragtag troop walks through the deep ravine, sharp rocks cutting through their feet, the rain drowning rivulets of blood down their legs and cloaks. They are starving. Only faith in their beloved leader keeps them walking.
At once they see him: a powerful Samurai knight standing immobile as a statue on his horse, his sword drawn, in front of them, barring the way. “Who’s your leader?” the knight asks, “bring him to me, now”. They hesitate.
“I won’t let you pass without seeing him, there, in front of me.”
In small steps, as in slow motion, their leader walks to the knight.
“Is it me you are calling for, my Lord?”
“O, really, this is too amusing”, says he, looking down at the slender woman and her grey cloak.
“My Lord, I am leading these poor people to the other valley.”
“No you won’t”, says he laughing, dismounting swiftly and approaching her, sword in hand.
“My Lord, I am asking for safe passage for this troop, they are hungry and exhausted”, says she, as he lifts his sword. She stands, immobile, rain running down her face, in front of the knight, towering above her.
“Would you stand against me, woman?” says he, still as ice.
“I won’t, my Lord, this will” says she, as she draws her short Wakizashi from under her cloak, and in a fluid gesture, so fast he does not react, disarms him.
The knight looks at his sword on the ground, smiles: “Your knife is too short to worry me, but you are brave, and the Way of the Sword has no quarrel with bravery”.
And the knight mounts his horse and leads them to the valley.
swords glitter in the rain –
believers hold their breath in hope
knights walk the sky
The long corridors were dark and threatening, and he was so small: the tall windows did not let any light in, the ancient floors creaked menacingly.
He clinched his fists, thought of his mother, of the sweetness of being close to her, and, now, of the pain of being so far away – for how long?
In the courtyard he was at first frightened by the other boys, so noisy, looking so much older than him, then he realised they were looking at him, respectfully.
He was one of the smaller boys, but also so fast, and then, his fists: he had to fight once, and then there was peace, although he was punished, for four Sundays, sweeping the floors, doing the chores, but left alone.
He was not lost there, he’d fight his way, the way of the Samurai. Alone.