Japan: The Miraculous Mirror

You can read more about Amaterasu and her rivalry with her brother Susa-no-wo (Susanoo) at Wikipedia. The illustrations at the bottom of the page both show Amaterasu, rays of light radiating from her body, as she emerges from her cave in anger, thinking that there is a goddess that rivals her in beauty, and thus light returns into the world.

[Notes by LKG]

This story is part of the Japanese Mythology unit. Story source: Romance of Old Japan, Part I: Mythology and Legend by E. W. Champney and F. Champney (1917).

The Miraculous Mirror

Amaterasu, the bright, the Sun Goddess, high in the heaven,
Giver of bountiful light and the manifold glories of day,
Sat at the loom of the night, with her beauteous hand-maidens seven
Weaving the dark web of Doom with its symbols of joy and dismay.

Speeding her shuttle of Fate, interwove Izanagi’s fair daughter
Lotus-pure blossoms of Love with the flame of a rapturous star;
Twining the green woof of Life with the scarlet-stained ribbon of Slaughter,
Silver-bright Peace interweft with the red warp relentless of War.

Sudden from out of the void, by the wrath of the hurricane driven,
Into the Hall of the Gods, with the crash of a thunderbolt dire,
Down from the summit of Heaven, through a rent in the firmament riven,
Hurtled the Dragon of Hell, Susa-no-wo, demon of Fire!

Down from her throne in the sky fled Amaterasu affrighted,
Down to the bounds of the sea to a cavern of shadowy night,
Where she immured her secure from the rage of her brother benighted,
Leaving to Stygian gloom the Isles of the Dragon-fly bright.

Sorely the people bewailed the loss of their Jewel of Heaven,
Vainly the people besought the return of their Sun-Goddess bright,
All unavailing their prayers, until a god one auspicious even
Fashioned a mirror of gold that gleamed with miraculous light.

Then to the cavern they hied with Uzume, the Goddess of Laughter,
Who danced in the light of the moon on the marge of the frolicsome wave,
Rending the welkin with cries, till Amaterasu soon after,
Roused from her slumberous couch, peered forth from the door of her cave.

“Why this boisterous mirth, and what this unseemly commotion?”
Demanded the Goddess irate, and to her made Uzume reply:
“Queen of the Day, we rejoice in a princess more fair than the ocean,
Even more glorious-bright than the sun in the shimmering sky.

“Lo, now behold her,” she spake, and Amaterasu, returning,
Looked on the mirror of gold and, perceiving her image therein,
Deemed that she saw there a rival, and straightway, with jealousy burning,
Ran from the door of the cave, in astonishment, wrath, and chagrin.

Scarce had she quitted the cave when suddenly unto the portal,
Taji-KaraƓ (the Strong) rolled a boulder of mountainous height,
Cutting her off from retreat, our sun-giving Goddess immortal,
Ever to smile on the land with the grace of her bountiful light.

(500 words)

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