“Once upon a time there was a young white fox, whose name was Fukuyemon. When he had reached the fitting age, he shaved off his forelock and began to think of taking to himself a beautiful bride. The old fox, his father, resolved to give up his inheritance to his son, and retired into private life; so the young fox, in gratitude for this, labored hard and earnestly to increase his patrimony.
Now it happened that in a famous old family of foxes there was a beautiful young lady-fox, with such lovely fur that the fame of her jewel-like charms was spread far and wide. The young white fox, who had heard of this, was bent on making her his wife, and a meeting was arranged between them. There was not a fault to be found on either side; so the preliminaries were settled, and the wedding presents sent from the bridegroom to the bride’s house, with congratulatory speeches from the messenger, which were duly acknowledged by the person deputed to receive the gifts; the bearers, of course, received the customary fee in copper cash.
When the ceremonies had been concluded, an auspicious day was chosen for the bride to go to her husband’s house, and she was carried off in solemn procession during a shower of rain, the sun shining all the while. After the ceremonies of drinking wine had been gone through, the bride changed her dress, and the wedding was concluded, without let or hindrance, amid singing and dancing and merry-making.
The bride and bridegroom lived lovingly together, and a litter of little foxes were born to them, to the great joy of the old grandsire, who treated the little cubs as tenderly as if they had been butterflies or flowers. “They’re the very image of their old grandfather,” said he, as proud as possible. “As for medicine, bless them, they’re so healthy that they’ll never need a copper coin’s worth!”
As soon as they were old enough, they were carried off to the temple of Inari Sama, the patron saint of foxes, and the old grand-parents prayed that they might be delivered from dogs and all the other ills to which fox flesh is heir.
In this way the white fox by degrees waxed old and prosperous, and his children, year by year, became more and more numerous around him; so that, happy in his family and his business, every recurring spring brought him fresh cause for joy. “
~From Algernon Freeman-Mitford’s Tales of Old Japan, 1910
And the absence of moonlight,
lying here staring at my ceiling
because I can’t see the sky.
By the dim light of my little leaning
tower of pisa lamp-a tiny plastic architectural wonder,
with its small switch so old and functional-
I didn’t see it coming.
It’s the lunacy
that keeps me wondering how you are,
if you are seeing that moon again tonight, the same one
in the backyard
with the feathery tips of evergreens jabbing into it.
How crazy it was to have spied it together,
when things weren’t so strained.
I think you have me staring at this ceiling
while you stare at the moon.
I think you have lunacy, too.
I want to tell you about a lunatic’s sweetness,
galvanized by her belief that somehow
all this isn’t her fault.
The courtship of Inanna and Dumuzi is one of the oldest love poems from the ancient world. It is a story of love between the gods (although some argue that Dumuzi was a real person, who rose to power, and so attained mythical divine status). When the gods consummate their love the result is fecundity on earth, particularly for their worshipers.
This Sumerian text is often compared to the Song of Songs. The Egyptian love poetry makes a better parallel, but there are some connections. However, a word of warning, this is much more explicitly sexual than the Song of Songs, and, of course, it is about divine lovers.
Here it is:
The brother spoke to this younger sister
The Sun God, Utu, spoke to Inanna, saying:
‘Young Lady, the flax in its fullness is lovely,
Inanna, the grain is glistening in the furrow.
I will hoe it for you, I will bring it to you
A piece of linen, big or small, is always needed.
Inanna, I will bring it to you.’
‘Brother, after you’ve brought me the flax, who will comb it for me?
Sister, I will bring it to you combed.’
‘Utu, after you’ve brought it to me combed, who will spin it for me?
‘Sister, I will bring it to you spun.’
‘Brother, after you’ve brought the flax to me spun, who will braid it for me?
‘Sister, I will bring it to you braided.’
‘Utu, after you’ve brought it to me braided, who will warp it for me?’
‘Inanna, I will bring it to you warped.’
‘Brother, after you’ve brought the flax to me warped, who will weave it for me?’
‘Sister, I will bring it to you woven.’
‘Utu, after you’ve brought it to me woven, who will bleach it for me?’
‘Inanna, I will bring it to you bleached.’
‘Brother, after you’ve brought my bridal sheet to me,
Who will go to bed with me?
Utu, who will go to bed with me?’
‘Sister, your bridegroom will go to be with you
He who was born from a fertile womb,
He who was conceived on the sacred marriage throne
Dumuzi, the shepherd! He will go to bed with you.’
Inanna bathed and anointed herself with scented oil.
She covered her body with the royal robe
She arranged her precious lapis beads around her neck
She took the royal seal in her hand
Dumuzi waited expectantly
Inanna opened the door for him
Inside the house she shone before him
Like the light of the moon
Dumuzi looked at her joyously
He pressed his neck close against hers
He kissed her Continue reading