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

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.

There are as many sorts of women as there are women.

It is useless to talk with those who do not understand one and troublesome to talk with those who criticize from a feeling of superiority. Especially one-sided persons are troublesome. Few are accomplished in many arts and most cling narrowly to their own opinion.

Though the body moves, the soul may stay behind.

Let us be sure that the lady of our choice possesses certain tangible qualities that we admire; and if in other ways she falls short of our ideal, we must be patient and call to mind those qualities that first induced us to begin our courting.

To be pleasant, gentle, calm and self-possessed: this is the basis of good taste and charm in a woman. No matter how amorous or passionate you may be, as long as you are straightforward and refrain from causing others embarrassment, no one will mind. But women who are too vain and act pretentiously, to the extent that they make others feel uncomfortable, will themselves become the object of attention; and once that happens, people will find fault with whatever they say or do; whether it be how they enter a room, how they sit down, how they stand up or how they take their leave. Those who end up contradicting themselves and those who disparage their companions are also carefully watched and listened to all the more. As long as you are free from such faults, people will surely refrain from listening to tittle-tattle and will want to show you sympathy, if only for the sake of politeness. I am of the opinion that when you intentionally cause hurt to another, or indeed if you do ill through mere thoughtless behavior, you fully deserve to be censured in public. Some people are so good-natured that they can still care for those who despise them, but I myself find it very difficult. Did the Buddha himself in all his compassion ever preach that one should simply ignore those who slander the Three Treasures? How in this sullied world of ours can those who are hard done by be expected to reciprocate in kind?

Life is full of uncertainties, perhanps one day some unforeseen circumstance would bring her into his life once more.

We are not told of things that happened to specific people exactly as they happened; but the beginning is when there are good things and bad things, things that happen in this life which one never tires of seeing and hearing about, things which one cannot bear not to tell of and must pass on for all generations. If the storyteller wishes to speak well, then he chooses the good things; and if he wishes to hold the reader’s attention he chooses bad things, extraordinarily bad things. Good things and bad things alike, they are things of this world and no other. Writers in other countries approach the matter differently. Old stories in our own are different from new. There are differences in the degree of seriousness. But to dismiss them as lies is itself to depart from the truth. Even in the writ which the Buddha drew from his noble heart are parables, devices for pointing obliquely at the truth. To the ignorant they may seem to operate at cross purposes. The Greater Vehicle is full of them, but the general burden is always the same. The difference between enlightenment and confusion is of about the same order as the difference between the good and the bad in a romance. If one takes the generous view, then nothing is empty and useless.

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.

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