Murasaki Shikibu, aka Lady Murasaki

Murasaki
Shikibu, aka Lady Murasaki
973
c. 1014

Japanese Novelist, Poet and Lady-in-waiting at the Imperial Court during the Heian period best known as the author of The Tale of Genji

Author Quotes

No art or learning is to be pursued halfheartedly...and any art worth learning will certainly reward more or less generously the effort made to study it.

Well, we never expected this! they all say. No one liked her. They all said she was pretentious, awkward, difficult to approach, prickly, too fond of her tales, haughty, prone to versifying, disdainful, cantankerous, and scornful. But when you meet her, she is strangely meek, a completely different person altogether! How embarrassing! Do they really look upon me as a dull thing, I wonder? But I am what I am.

No penance can your hard heart find save such as you long since have taught me to endure.

Where in all this world shall I call home? A temporary shelter is my home. A hut, a jeweled pavilion, they were the same. A pleasantly green vine was climbing a board wall. The white flowers, he said to himself, had a rather self-satisfied look about them. 'I needs must ask the lady far yonder, he said, as if to himself.

Now the end has come, and I am filled with sorrow that our ways must part: the path I would rather take is the one that leads to life.

Would that, like the smoke of the watch-fires that mounts and vanishes at random in the empty sky, the smouldering flame of passion could burn itself away.

One ought not to be unkind to a woman merely on account of her plainness, any more than one had a right to take liberties with her merely because she was handsome.

You that in far-off countries of the sky can dwell secure, look back upon me here; for I am weary of this frail world's decay.

An attendant came up, bowing deeply. The white flowers far off yonder are known as 'evening faces, he said. A very human sort of name--and what a shabby place they have picked to bloom in.It was as the man said. The neighborhood was a poor one, chiefly of small houses. Some were leaning precariously, and there were evening faces at the sagging eaves. A hapless sort of flower. Pick one off for me, will you? The man went inside the raised gate and broke off a flower. A pretty little girl in long, unlined yellow trousers of raw silk came out through a sliding door that seemed too good for the surroundings. Beckoning to the man, she handed him a heavily scented white fan. Put it on this. It isn't much of a fan, but then it isn't much of a flower either.

Real things in the darkness seem no realer than dreams.

Autumn is no time to lie alone.

So much for their looks; but their characters - that is a much more difficult matter. We all have our quirks and no one is ever all bad. Then again, it is not possible for everyone to be all things all of the time: attractive, restrained, intelligent, tasteful and trustworthy. We are all different and it is often difficult to know on which aspect to dwell.

Ceaseless as the interminable voices of the bell-cricket, all night till dawn my tears flow.

The bond between husband and wife is a strong one. Suppose the man had hunted her out and brought her back. The memory of her acts would still be there, and inevitably, sooner or later, it would be cause for rancor. When there are crises, incidents, a woman should try to overlook them, for better or for worse, and make the bond into something durable. The wounds will remain, with the woman and with the man, when there are crises such as I have described. It is very foolish for a woman to let a little dalliance upset her so much that she shows her resentment openly. He has his adventures--but if he has fond memories of their early days together, his and hers, she may be sure that she matters. A commotion means the end of everything. She should be quiet and generous, and when something comes up that quite properly arouses her resentment she should make it known by delicate hints. The man will feel guilty and with tactful guidance he will mend his ways. Too much lenience can make a woman seem charmingly docile and trusting, but it can also make her seem somewhat wanting in substance. We have had instances enough of boats abandoned to the winds and waves. It may be difficult when someone you are especially fond of, someone beautiful and charming, has been guilty of an indiscretion, but magnanimity produces wonders. They may not always work, but generosity and reasonableness and patience do on the whole seem best.

Foolish indeed are those who trust to fortune.

The hanging gate, of something like trelliswork, was propped on a pole, and he could see that the house was tiny and flimsy. He felt a little sorry for the occupants of such a place--and then asked himself who in this world had a temporary shelter.

How much the more in judging of the human heart should we distrust all fashionable airs and graces, all tricks and smartness, learnt only to please the outward gaze.

The memories of long love gather like drifting snow, poignant as the mandarin ducks who float side by side in sleep.

I needs must ask the lady far yonder what flower it is off there that blooms so white.

The number of those who have nothing to recommend them and of those in whom nothing but good can be found is probably equal

If like the leaf of the wisteria through which the sun darts his rays transparently you give your heart to me, I will no longer distrust you.

The wood-carver can fashion whatever he will. Yet his products are but toys of the moment, to be glanced at in jest, not fashioned according to any precept or law. When times change, the carver too will change his style and make new trifles to hit the fancy of the passing day. But there is another kind of artist, who sets more soberly about his work, striving to give real beauty to the things which men actually use and to give to them the shape which tradition has ordained. This maker of real things must not for a moment be confused with the maker of idle toys.

In a certain reign there was a lady not of the first rank whom the emperor loved more than any of the others. The grand ladies with high ambitions thought her a presumptuous upstart, and lesser ladies were still more resentful. Everything she did offended someone.

The world know it not; but you, Autumn, I confess it: your wind at night-fall stabs deep into my heart.

It is indeed in many ways more comfortable to belong to that section of society whose action are not publicly canvassed and discussed.

Author Picture
First Name
Murasaki
Last Name
Shikibu, aka Lady Murasaki
Birth Date
973
Death Date
c. 1014
Bio

Japanese Novelist, Poet and Lady-in-waiting at the Imperial Court during the Heian period best known as the author of The Tale of Genji