BLTC Press Titles


available for Kindle at Amazon.com


The Diplomatic Background of the War

Charles Seymour


Some Experiences of an Irish R. M.

Edith Somerville and Martin Ross


Through the Looking Glass

Lewis Carroll


The Worm Ouroboros

E. R. Eddison


Kakemono: Japanese sketches

by A. Herbage Edwards

Excerpt:

I

DAI BUTSU

(GREAT BUDDHA)

The great God Buddha sits peaceful and still, a line of dark bronze against the blue sky, and the length of the garden is flooded with light. Two tall pink cherrytrees drop blushing snowflakes on to his broad shoulders, and the sound of running water is a liquid prayer. Under his heavy-lidded eyes he looks as one who saw not, or saw too well, and his slow smile is inscrutable and still. The mystery of it draws one nearer.

What is thy secret, Great Lord Buddha ?

But the heavy-lidded eyes droop lower, and the slow smile is still. Only the cherry-trees send their pale pink petals floating downward into the bronzed lap. And the murmuring water runs more swiftly.

Immutable he sits, and still; enduring, unchanging, though the sea destroy his temples and the earthquakes rock about his feet. Buddha on his lotus-leaf is still.

And the generations of men rise up, and pass away, fretted with life's fitful fever, and searching for his secret. Buddha is still, his slow smile unchanging, his heavy eyelids drooped.

Is that thy secret, Great Lord Buddha ? The mystery we passion-swept, ever-changing mortals can never penetrate ?

" God is the same, for ever." The same, and for ever."

And the murmuring water runs, the cherry-trees bloom and fade, the centuries pass away. Still the heavy-lidded eyes are drooped, the slow smile is inscrutable and still. Lord Buddha keeps his secret.

Or is it only we who cannot read.

II

THE SHRINES OF ISE

On every side the circle of the hills shuts out all sounds, and the vast forest stretches solemn, sombre.

The long two miles of white road from the village are forgotten, the crude sunshine of the public gardens fades away, the giant fir-trees stand as they stood two thousand years ago when the shrine of the great SunGoddess first was born.

The broad grey path of unhewn stone, unshadowed in the darkness of the trees, bends downward to the river's brink, where a grey still pool lies silent on the edge of the rushing stream. It is the Pool of Purification where all who go up to the temple stay and wash. Even the kurumaya who daily draws the pilgrim or the stranger to the shrine, stoops to plunge his hands and feet into the still grey waters. And as he does so a great shaft of sunshine hits the weltering circle of the hills beyond the stream, and they quiver, blue as a distant mirage in the blue sky ; while the forest is the darker for that light.

The grey stone path is long and wide, the forest vast, unfathomable; primaeval, untamed, and yet kept with a care that leaves no trace behind ; the forest of a dream where Death is not, nor decay, nor any sign of man. From time to time the dark stern stems of the cryptomerias are broken with the glossy deepgreen leaves of a camphor-tree; and each time my kurumaya stays to pray, for camphor-trees are sacred, and their bark thrown into the sea has power to calm the waves.

And the forest stretches on and on.

In the distance the grey stone path broadens into a flight of shallow steps, and passes beneath an open gateway out of sight. A wooden wall, like the sloughed bark of forest trees, stretches right and left; and against it, rigid in his discipline, the white uniform of a modern soldier, bayonet fixed.

I stand on the threshold of the most sacred spot in all Japan.

Beyond the gateway is another gate, where a pure white curtain falls, fold on fold. It is the veil of the great Sun-Goddess. All through the ages since first the nation was, the shrine of the Sun-Goddess has stood behind that veil. Every twenty years night comes, her temple dies, and again is born, unchanged, unaltered to the last least detail. And her priests are the carpenters. So through all the ages, the body of the great Sun-Goddess glows, in youth eternal, and none save her far-off offspring, Tenshisama, the Son of Heaven, may pass behind the veil.


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