You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘pray’ tag.

ONCE upon a time, a wise raven lived in the top of the Giralda, the Moorish bell tower of the cathedral in Seville, Spain. The raven was old, so old that his head was not black, but gray. The tower, too, is old, and is crowned by the large, bronze figure of Faith which serves as a weather vane. For four centuries, el Girandello, the weather vane, has turned with the wind; and it was four centuries ago, that the raven was living in the tower. All day, he would sit on his perch, with his learned head cocked on one side as he sleepily studied the stonework of the belfry, or alertly discussed weighty matters with his bird comrades and with the wind. At night, he was often deep in talk with his special friend, the owl, who, when tired of roaming through the tops of the giant palm trees or of prowling into out-of-the-way nooks in the cathedral roof, liked to tell of his adventures. For, in night wanderings, the owl sometimes flew near the quiet Guadalquiver which flowed by Seville, and he heard the river murmur tales of the Tower of Gold on its bank; or he peered into the gardens of the Alcazar where Spanish kings had long had their palace, and heard, from the moonbeams, tales which, when repeated, made even the raven’s sober thoughts turn sprightly. What the raven liked best to hear was what the owl, or any one else, could tell of the Giralda itself or of the mighty Cathedral below the tower. For the raven cared for nothing in the world so much as he cared for this tall tower, up whose winding passage, of three hundred feet, men had ridden on horseback, almost to the very top. Yes, with his own eyes he had seen those riders. Before the days of the riders, in the time when the bells of the Giralda summoned the Moors to prayer, there had been, on the spire, four large, gilded, copper balls that shone like golden apples. After an earthquake had thrown down the copper balls, el Girandello was placed on the top of the dome. The raven considered himself the owner of el Girandello and, in truth, of all the Giralda. Who, but himself, had perched on the sills of the twin windows that looked out, high in the tower, over the white-roofed Seville? Who, but himself, had stood upon the helmet on the head of el Girandello? Not the owl!–the raven saw to that! And not another bird of his acquaintance, surely! He knew himself to be the oldest raven in the world; he knew himself to be the wisest raven in the world;–and he certainly owned the whole of the Giralda!

The raven, in short, was entirely satisfied with his belfry and its bells. It was a rectangular belfry, and on the four faces of the rectangular stage, high up, were inscribed the four words: Turris . . . Fortissima . . . Nomen . . . Domini1 The great bells, each christened with holy oil, had their own names. There were Santa Maria and San Juan; there was la Gorda, or The Fat; there was brave San Miguel; there was el Cantor, or The Singer; and there was many another. At times, the bells rang softly through the still air that hovered over the flat-roofed city. At other times, they rang out with such noisy clamor that the vibration penetrated the houses farthest away, and the raven of the Giralda clung to his stone perch as closely as the leaves of the cocoa tree cling to their twigs. The raven liked el Cantor better than all the other bells. He couldn’t sing a note himself, but he liked this singing bell, with its especially clear tone. On spring evenings when the fragrance of orange blossoms and acacias filled the air, The Singer would peal forth such a glad note that the people down in the street would say, “El Cantor is feeling fine tonight”; and the raven, up in the tower, would croak loudly with him, though he never croaked with any other bell.

Now it happened that the wind, even more than the owl, was a friend of the raven. This was not only because the wind was usually a gentle, lovable, sunny-hearted fellow, but because he was always around the tower, day and night, whereas the owl hid all day.

RAVEN OF THE GIRALDA - Raven Ringing the Bell

When the raven felt like talking, the wind was always on hand to listen. That was a friend worth having! The wind, too, often told capital stories.

One afternoon, the wind told the raven an astonishing tale. The wind had it from the owl who, in turn, had it from the passarinno–that small, gray bird who sings like an angel. To this passarinno, the story had come down from his ancestor, of a much earlier time. That ancestor had told it to the wind of his day, who wafted it to the ears of King Alfonso, the Sage. Perhaps, in the later days, it had grown by traveling (passarinno to owl, owl to wind, wind to raven); for, when Alfonso, in the thirteenth century, wrote the tale in his big book of Cantigas, it wasn’t just like the passarinno’s story to the owl three centuries later. Would you like to hear the tale? Anyone may hear it. To believe the tale as it should be believed, and to understand it aright, you must be able to know the power of melodious sounds, as truly as the blind organist of Seville Cathedral knew that power. If you do not know anything about the music of the trees, or the music of the birds, or the music of the air, you may as well stop reading this story and gather nuts instead. Listen to the tale, if you will; here it is, as the wind told it to the raven.

“For, sir,” began the wind,” it was a passarinno who told the owl and the owl told me. The owl had been praising the voice of the passarinno, but the passarinno protested and said,

‘My voice is nothing compared to the voice of my ancestress–the passarinna 2 who entranced the monk.’ Now, pray, explain your words,’ said the owl. The passarinno answered, pleasantly, ‘Sit comfortably and I will tell you all.’ They were in the garden of the Alcazar and were perched on a tall cocoa tree. The owl settled himself on a wide, sweeping leaf, and the passarinno perched himself on a leaf above.

‘My ancestress,’ the passarinno went on, ‘was the most marvelous singer ever known. Her home was in the garden, just outside the Court of Oranges beside the Giralda, and when she was singing she would look up at the tower. But she rarely was heard by anyone, because she chose to live in the unfrequented part of the great garden. One morning a monk came, very slowly, along the path that led to the shrubbery where the passarinna lived, and my ancestress knew at once three things about that monk: first, that he was good; second, that he was old; third, that he was weary. The monk sat down, rather heavily, beside the fountain that was sending a cool, orange-scented, shimmering spray of water into the air. Leaning over the edge of the pool, he bathed his hands in the clear water and bathed his face. The passarinna could plainly see how refreshing, to the tired monk, the water felt; for there came into his face a look like the look on a parched tree when a shower renews it. The weary lines on the monk’s brow passed away, as cloud-bars vanish from the evening sky, leaving fairness and tranquillity. He sat, for some time, with a smile on his face, looking up at the tree tops and at the Giralda beyond. Then, kneeling down–and his knees were not as stiff as when he entered the garden–he prayed aloud that he might be permitted to know what the happiness of Paradise would be like. It was at that moment the passarinna–marvelous ancestress of mine–began to sing.

RAVEN OF THE GIRALDA - The Monk rose from his knees

‘The monk rose from his knees, and, with a smile on his face, seated himself in the thickest part of the shrubbery, where he could see the passarinna and where the passarinna could see him. That bird of birds sang on and on, now softly, now triumphantly, now wistfully, now ecstatically. There was such charm in her singing, all the leaves forgot to rustle. There was such charm in the melody, the water in the fountain ceased moving–the breezy air was hushed and wondering–the day faded imperceptibly into night, and the stars came nearer earth to hear the song. Still the passarinna sang on and on and on. Still the monk listened happily, with an exalted look in his eyes, and was unaware of the passing of hours or of days. As the passarinna continued her heavenly song, time itself stopped, though life went on. . . . The monk listened, listened in rapture, while joyous satisfaction held his whole being . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

RAVEN OF THE GIRALDA - There came to the door of the monastery

‘Late one afternoon,’ went on the passarinno, ‘there came to the door of the monastery near the Giralda, an aged, worn-looking man, long-bearded, and in shabby monk’s dress. The prior himself answered his knock and said, “Who are you, poor stranger, and what do you want?”

‘The monk stammered in much confusion, “Good father, I belong here . . . I left the monastery this morning for a walk. . . . I come back–all is changed. I do not understand. The trees look different . . . the monastery is larger . . . you are not my prior . . . nothing is the same. Where am I? . . . What has happened since morning? . .

I heard a bird sing, and I was so entranced with the song I may have stayed away too long.”

‘The prior and the brother monks who had now come to the door looked at one another in surprise, and said, in low tones, “He is evidently not himself. . . . The man does not know what he says.”

‘The prior then spoke to the man, kindly, saying, “What is your name?”

“I am Brother Jubilo,” the monk replied; “I mean, . . . he stammered, “that was my name in the monastery . . . that was what I was called this morning.”

‘The oldest monk among those at the door now looked thoughtful. It was to him that the others always turned whenever any knowledge of the past was wanted. “Attend my words,” he suddenly said to the prior. “Three hundred years ago a brother monk, named Jubilo, wandered off and was never again seen. My Father–my brother monks—I am of the opinion that we have before us, this day, a true marvel! I am sure this poor monk and that Jubilo, of three hundred years ago, are the same!”

‘Then the prior, believing, took the monk warmly by the hand and brought him into the monastery, and all rejoiced.’

‘That, ‘said the passarinno to the owl, ‘is the story of my ancestress, the passarinna of long ago. The Giralda knows I speak truth.’

And the wind, as he finished the tale, remarked, “That’s all the story, sir; but the passarinno does speak truth.”

“Truth it is,” replied the raven, “and I’ll keep the story going.”

Then the sunny wind brushed the tail feathers of the raven and blew along his leisurely way, through the streets of Seville.

The raven sat stolidly in his niche, gazing with keen eyes at the city spread out below the Giralda–its flat-roofed houses gleaming in soft colours, from blue and gray to palest pink. He watched the women watering their carnations on the roofs. He saw the motionless, dusky Guadalquiver, in the late afternoon light. His eyes followed the group of boys coming to the Cathedral to practice their solemn dance. Turning his wise, old head, he looked toward the gardens of the Alcazar, then down at the Court of Oranges, and at the roof of the vast Cathedral below him–its parapets, and buttresses. His roving gaze went all over the city until sundown. The bells of the Giralda sent out their evening peal, and el Cantor’s vibrating tone fell softly on the waiting breeze. The raven sturdily croaked, croaked, until el Cantor stopped singing; then, humping himself into a ball, he tucked his head under his feathers and went to sleep.

RAVEN OF THE GIRALDA - The Raven Sings

From: TOWER LEGENDS

ISBN: 9781907256349

URL: http://abelapublishing.com/tower-legends_p27279490.htm

Also available as an eBook in PDF and ePub

Footnotes

1 The name of the Lord a most steadfast tower.

2 Passarinna (the feminine form of passarinno) is the diminutive of the Old Spanish pasara (in modern Spanish, pajara). The nearest equivalent today is Passerina (sparrow), the painted finch.

Raven of the Giralda - Sevilla_La_Giralda

Advertisements

The monk Anchin was young in years but old in scholarship. Every day for many hours he read the Great Books of the Good Law and never wearied, and hard characters were not hard to him.

The monk Anchin was young in years but old in holiness; he kept his body under by fastings and watchings and long prayers. He was acquainted with the blessedness of sublime meditations. His countenance was white as ivory and as smooth; his eyes were deep as a brown pool in autumn; his smile was that of a Buddha; his voice was like an angel’s. He dwelt with a score of holy men in a monastery of the mountains, where he learned the mystic “Way of the Gods.” He was bound to his order by the strictest vows, but was content, rejoicing in the shade of the great pine trees and the sound of the running water of the streams.

Now it happened that on a day in spring-time, the old man, his Abbot, sent the young monk Anchin upon an errand of mercy. And he said, “My son, bind your sandals fast and tie spare sandals to your girdle, take your hat and your staff and your rosary and begging bowl, for you have far to go, over mountain and stream, and across the great plain.”

So the monk Anchin made him ready.

“My son,” the Abbot said, “if any wayfarer do you a kindness, forget not to commend him to the gods for the space of nine existences.”

“I will remember,” said the monk, and so he set forth upon his way.

Over mountain and stream he passed, and as he went his spirit was wrapped in contemplation, and he recited the Holy Sutras aloud in a singing voice. And the Wise Birds called and twittered from branch to branch of the tall trees, the birds that are beloved of Buddha. One bird chanted the grand Scripture of the Nicheten, the Praise of the Sutra of the Lotus, of the Good Law, and the other bird called upon his Master’s name, for he cried:

“O thou Compassionate Mind! O thou Compassionate Mind!”

The monk smiled. “Sweet and happy bird,” he said.

And the bird answered, “O thou Compassionate Mind!… O thou Compassionate Mind!”

When the monk Anchin came to the great plain, the sun was high in the heavens, and all the blue and golden flowers of the plain languished in the noon-tide heat. The monk likewise became very weary, and when he beheld the Marshy Mere, where were bulrush and sedge that cooled their feet in the water, he laid him down to rest under a sycamore tree that grew by the Marshy Mere.

Over the mere and upon the farther side of it there hung a glittering haze.

Long did the monk Anchin lie; and as he lay he looked through the glittering haze, and as he looked the haze quivered and moved and grew and gathered upon the farther side of the mere. At the last it drew into a slender column of vapour, and out of the vapour there came forth a very dazzling lady. She wore a robe of green and gold, interwoven, and golden sandals on her slender feet. In her hands were jewels—in each hand one bright jewel like a star. Her hair was tied with a braid of scarlet, and she had a crown of scarlet flowers. She came, skirting the Marshy Mere. She came, gliding in and out of the bulrush and the sedge. In the silence there could be heard the rustle of her green skirt upon the green grass.

The monk Anchin stumbled to his feet and, trembling, he leaned against the sycamore tree.

Nearer and nearer came the lady, till she stood before Anchin and looked into his eyes. With the jewel that was in her right hand she touched his forehead and his lips. With the jewel that was in her left hand she touched his rice-straw hat and his staff and his rosary and his begging bowl. After this she had him safe in thrall. Then the wind blew a tress of her hair across his face, and when he felt it he gave one sob.

For the rest of his journey the monk went as a man in a dream. Once a rich traveller riding on horseback threw a silver coin into Anchin’s begging bowl; once a woman gave him a piece of cake made of millet; and once a little boy knelt down and tied the fastening of his sandal that had become loose. But each time the monk passed on without a word, for he forgot to commend the souls of these compassionate ones for the space of nine existences. In the tree-tops the Wise Birds of Buddha sang for him no more, only from the thicket was heard the cry of the Hototogisu, the bird lovelorn and forsaken.

Nevertheless, well or ill, he performed his errand of mercy and returned to the monastery by another way.

Howbeit, sweet peace left him from the hour in which he had seen the lady of the Marshy Mere. The Great Books of the Good Law sufficed him no longer; no more was he acquainted with the blessedness of divine meditations. His heart was hot within him; his eyes burned and his soul longed after the lady of the green and golden robe.

She had told him her name, and he murmured it in his sleep. “Kiohimé—Kiohimé!” Waking, he repeated it instead of his prayers—to the great scandal of the brethren, who whispered together and said, “Is our brother mad?”

At length Anchin went to the good Abbot, and in his ear poured forth all his tale in a passion of mingled love and grief, humbly asking what he must do.

The Abbot said, “Alack, my son, now you suffer for sin committed in a former life, for Karma must needs be worked out.”

Anchin asked him, “Then is it past help?”

“Not that,” said the Abbot, “but you are in a very great strait.”

“Are you angry with me?” said Anchin.

“Nay, Heaven forbid, my poor son.”

“Then what must I do?”

“Fast and pray, and for a penance stand in the ice-cold water of our mountain torrent an hour at sunrise and an hour at sunset. Thus shall you be purged from carnal affection and escape the perils of illusion.”

So Anchin fasted and prayed, he scourged his body, and hour after hour he did penance in the ice-cold water of the torrent. Wan as a ghost he grew, and his eyes were like flames. His trouble would not leave him. A battle raged in his breast. He could not be faithful to his vows and faithful to his love.

The brethren wondered, “What can ail the monk Anchin, who was so learned and so holy—is he bewitched by a fox or a badger, or can he have a devil?”

But the Abbot said, “Let be.”

Now on a hot night of summer, the monk being sleepless in his cell, he was visited by Kiohimé, the magic lady of the mere. The moonlight was on her hands and her long sleeves. Her robe was green and gold, interwoven; golden were her sandals. Her hair was braided with scarlet and adorned with scarlet flowers.

“Long, long have I waited for thee on the plains,” she said. “The night wind sighs in the sedge—the frogs sing by the Marshy Mere. Come, lord….”

But he cried, “My vows that I have vowed—alas! the love that I love. I keep faith and loyalty, the bird in my bosom … I may not come.”

She smiled, “May not?” she said, and with that she lifted the monk Anchin in her arms.

But he, gathering all his strength together, tore himself from her and fled from the place. Barefooted and bareheaded he went, his white robe flying, through the dark halls of the monastery, where the air was heavy with incense and sweet with prayers, where the golden Amida rested upon her lotus, ineffably smiling. He leaped the grey stone steps that led down from her shrine and gained the pine trees and the mountain path. Down, down he fled on the rough way, the nymph Kiohimé pursuing. As for her, her feet never touched the ground, and she spread her green sleeves like wings. Down, down they fled together, and so close was she behind him that the monk felt her breath upon his neck.

“As a young goddess, she is fleet of foot …” he moaned.

At last they came to the famed temple of Dōjōji, which was upon the plains. By this Anchin sobbed and staggered as he ran; his knees failed him and his head swam.

“I am lost,” he cried, “for a hundred existences.” But with that he saw the great temple bell of Dōjōji that hung but a little way from the ground. He cast himself down and crept beneath it, and so deemed himself sheltered and secure.

Then came Kiohimé, the Merciless Lady, and the moonlight shone upon her long sleeves. She did not sigh, nor cry, nor call upon her love. She stood still for a little space and smiled. Then lightly she sprang to the top of the great bronze bell of Dōjōji, and with her sharp teeth she bit through the ropes that held it, so that the bell came to the ground and the monk was a prisoner. And Kiohimé embraced the bell with her arms. She crept about it, she crawled about it and her green robe flowed over it. Her green robe glittered with a thousand golden scales; long flames burst from her lips and from her eyes; a huge and fearsome Dragon, she wound and coiled herself about the bell of Dōjōji. With her Dragon’s tail she lashed the bell, and lashed it till its bronze was red hot.

Still she lashed the bell, while the monk called piteously for mercy. And when he was very quiet she did not stop. All the night long the frogs sang by the Marshy Mere and the wind sighed in the sedges. But the Dragon Lady was upon the bell of Dōjōji, and she lashed it furiously with her tail till dawn.
———————
From: DRAGONS TALES – A BOOK FOR BOYS ONLY!
ISBN: 978-1-909302-39-6
URL: http://abelapublishing.com/dragons-tales-for-boys-only_p24489283.htm

The Bell of Dojoji

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But he, gathering all his strength together, tore himself from her and fled from the place

 

 

Advertisements