The Tale of the Moon Princess

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A/N: based off of The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter. This may be longer than 3 minutes...oops. 


A long time ago, in a land far away
I was exiled from home.
For what crime? I cannot say.


Wrapped in bamboo, sent through the sky
deprived of age or memory,
once more an infant was I.


In an ancient forest, wrapped tight,
old Okina took me as his own,
vowing to protect me with all his might.


With my arrival great wealth came too,
silver, my father would find,
in each stalk of bamboo.


Time passed, the moon
waxed and waned, on my 17th birthday,
I remembered my former fortune.


I was a princess of the sky,
a celestial moon warrior,
my song a timeless battle cry.


As I watched the heavens,
the world watched me, my beauty grew
from town knowledge to national legend.


my face was a round pale moon
my hair was midnight black,
so long even women had swoon.


Princes came from north and south
blustering loud men for my hand
(their eyes never passed above my mouth.)


Focused on my estrangement
each suitor I refused,
but Okina insisted on an engagement.


“Great princes have come from afar
for the chance at your hand
surely one is up to par?”


So I gave each man a test
a chance to prove
they could rise above the rest


Bring me, I asked, the Buddha’s bowl
with all of his compassion,
for I needed a man with soul.


Bring me the dragon’s sapphire
wrapped tight around his neck,
for my lover must be full of desire.


Bring me the sea shell
born from the mountain swallows
for we will live between heaven and hell.


Each agreed to the task and
each returned with fakes,
none strong enough for my demands.


Relieved at remaining free,
I focused my eyes on the sky, ready to
remember the endless night seas.


But leaving this world would not be
so easy, love finds a way
into the cracks of even the flea.


As all the princes finally left
a quiet man arrived,
different from the rest.


He did not boast,
he did not swagger,
(he’d hold my gaze to toast).


With letters, with talk,
we passed a golden summer
I’ve never forgot.


For once, I wasn’t stranger
for once I wasn’t a beauty,
for once I felt no danger.


And though he wouldn’t tell me,
he seemed lighter when I arrived
As though with me he was free.


But I was growing stronger
each night the moon pulled more:
I couldn’t stay on Earth much longer.


Under the crimson fall leaves
did he reveal, he was the Emperor
and to his happiness, I held the keys.


The man I loved remained on bended knee
the world, the future between my lips,
as though I could make him happy.


Have you felt your heart torn in two?
One piece ecstatic, one piece in pain,
full of tears I fled, not knowing what to do.


For days I could not eat,
could barely take a drink,
refusing my lover’s desire to meet.


In shaky hand I wrote to him,
“I am a stranger from a distant land,
marriage to me would be grim.”


Despite every rule and regulation
I explained against our match
he refused this limitation.


Even old Okina feared for me
my days spent in tears, confused by
my refusal of the emperor's plea


As my time began to end,
I saw my love one last time
to tell the the truth, to make amends


"I was not born under the moon
but on her grey shores. though I love you,
I must return to her soon."


When he tried to dispute,
I kissed his stubborn lips,
rendering him beautifully mute.


a hundred guards he placed
around my father’s house
alas it was a waste.


one night later under a full moon
i felt my wings return
though my heart was still hewn.


a princess has duties she must do,
though i loved him, my people needed me
in silent silver light i bid this world adieu.


once more i roam the midnight sky
a fighter, a defender
my song a fearsome battle cry


earth is more now than a colorful place
i see her now and remember
(and occasionally tears run down my face)


my heart rose and soar
in a golden season. Neither
beauty nor duty: I was adored


Now my love is gone without a trace
centuries have passed,
Only i remember his face.


The moon people live long
but not forever, deep in my heart
I pray to go where I belong.


To the endless golden season
under the trees with my love.
free of duty’s cold reason


For obligation has no place
in the world after death
only love’s gentle embrace.

Created: Apr 08, 2014

Tags: metered, fiction, japanese, folklore, lost, story, moon princess, poetry, japanese folk tale, love, moon, rhyme, duty

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