Hypnerotomachia Katsura Kotonoha
THE HYPNEROTOMACHIA OF KOTONOHA, IN
WHICH IT IS SHOWN THAT ALL NICE
BOATS ARE BUT A DREAM, AND
MANY OTHER THINGS WORTHY
OF KNOWLEDGE AND
* * *
Many a time, Makoto, I have thought of how the ancient authors dedicated their works aptly for waifus and husbandos, some for gain, some for favor, and others for praise. But it is for none of these reasons, except perhaps the middle one, that I offer this Hypnerotomachia of mine, for I can find no prince more worthy of its dedication than you. Your highly regarded virtue and your outstanding behavior, by which you hold first place above any boy in our school, have inflamed me excessively with a noble love for you.
KOTONOHA BEGINS HER HYPNEROTOMACHIA BY DESCRIBING A TIME AND A SEASON AT WHICH SHE SEEMED TO FIND HERSELF IN A DREAM ON A CALM AND SILENT MOUNTAINSIDE.
THE HYPNEROTOMACHIA OF KOTONOHA.
DESCRIPTION OF THE DAWN.
I was lying on my bed, with no one with me in my familiar chamber but the dear companion of my sleepless nights, Insomnia. She kindly helped me to calm my uneasiness, then, realizing the time had come for me to sleep, asked to leave. Left alone with my deep thoughts about love, I passed the long and tedious night sleeplessly. I sighed and wept for my importunate and unsuccessful love, thinking over point by point the nature of unmatched affection, and how best to love someone who does not love in return.
Thus, like a woman exhausted by the labors of the day, with my sad complaint scarcely soothed, I now wanted my natural and timely rest. As my reddened eyelids began to close upon my wet eyes, I was between bitter life and sweet death. A gentle sleep invaded and occupied that part of me that is not united with my mind.
I seemed to be on a high mountain, looking across a wooded valley, gazing upon a quiet castle. As I wandered in this place with fearful wonderment, I said to myself, “No human being appears to the eager sight; no beast, wild or tame, is to be seen.” But reassured by the quietness and pleasantness of the place and thus feeling safe, I proceeded in the direction of the castle.
Scarcely had I entered the stone courtyard when I was overwhelmed by the majestic beauty of its imposing exterior. Religious murals adorned its walls, and though I recognize not who they depict, I felt small and insignificant in their company, and I dared not enter the castle, lest I be completely swallowed up by its resplendent interior. And so, dear Makoto, I fled in the direction of a nearby town, which I found similarly empty, but arriving at the opposite edge, there was a train with its doors open, welcoming me inside. Passengers occupied its seats, all slumped like marionettes whose strings had been cut, in order that each may pretend that privacy can be maintained in such close quarters. Finding an open seat, I mimicked their pose, and as soon as I sat, the doors closed and the train departed.
KOTONOHA, FLEEING FROM HER IRRATIONAL FEAR OF THE CASTLE, RIDES THE TRAIN NORTH, WHERE SHE TRANSFERS TO A TRAMCAR, WHICH TAKES HER ABOVE SNOW-CAPPED PEAKS AND BILLOWING CLOUDS, THEN BACK DOWN TO THE FJORDS OF NORWAY.
As I reached the shore, the sour mood that had enveloped my person was blown away by a bracing gale, and in my excitement, I ran towards the ocean. In a short time, a ferry came into view, and I stopped in my tracks as surprise tore my breath away, for it was truly a nice boat. I have always found boats to be romantic, and wished to ride one with you, even one not so splendid as the blue and white ferry before me. I could do naught but stand, paralyzed, as it drifted past me and into the distance.
Once it had passed beyond the range of my sight, I took my time to explore the fjord more carefully. Climbing up a rocky crag, I looked out past a rushing waterfall and spotted the boat once more, but it was insignificant next to the magnificence of the rugged nature. It only made me pine for you all the more, Makoto, for no sight in this world or any other can compare to your handsome beauty, your unblemished charm.
WITH LOVING THOUGHTS OF MAKOTO FILLING HER HEAD, KOTONOHA WANDERS AIMLESSLY, PAST FIELDS OF BUTTERCUPS AND THROUGH A YOUNG FOREST. SHE PAUSES BRIEFLY AT A LAKESIDE FARM TO PET A HORSE BEFORE TURNING INLAND AND WALKING DOWN A RURAL HIGHWAY. SHE FOLLOWS THE ROAD ALL THE WAY TO VENICE, ITALY.
Once again, I was drawn to the boats, which are prevalent throughout the canals of this historied city. Some are so large that I could scarcely believe they fit below the stone bridges that crossed over the water, while others are so small that it is a wonder that they could convey their single passengers. While surveying the vessels before me, I locked eyes with a gondolier standing straight on the back of his craft. No words were necessary between us, for we both knew that I was fated to travel the canals, ferried by his steady hand, so I took a seat in his gondola and we set out on a tour through the city. We glided atop the water, past tourists in gondolas and ferries, small motor boats laden with newspapers for delivery, and endless buildings that towered above us.
Reaching the outskirts of the city, the gondolier did not stop, continuing to row until we reached the ocean, where the gentle rocking of the water inspired in me a sleepiness the like I had never experienced in real life. When next I woke, we were in South Holland, on a calm river flanked by windmills. Noticing that I had awoken, the gondolier pulled up to the river bank, and I sensed our time together had passed, for you are the only man with whom I may spend eternity. Not far from the river, I spotted a public park, with families taking strolls beneath the trees, and a Ferris wheel on the other side. Once again, I realized I was not where I belonged, for you were not with me to experience the romance of the peaceful afternoon.
IN SEARCH OF MAKOTO, KOTONOHA WANDERS ACROSS THE CONTINENT, VISITING CITIES AND OBSERVING BOATS, RESTING ONLY IN AN OPEN FIELD WITH SOME COWS, AS A FARMER DRIVES A HAY TEDDER NEARBY. KOTONOHA THEN CONCLUDES HER HYPNEROTOMACHIA, REGRETTING THAT HER DREAM WAS NOT LONGER, AND THAT THE SUN WAS SO ENVIOUS AS TO BRING THE DAY.
This was the point, o gentle readers, at which, alas, I awoke. I was desolate at the violent theft of this lovely image, this happy presence; it transported me from wondrous sweetness into intense bitterness as this glorious dream left my sight. I awoke and emerged with a start from my sweet dream, saying with a sigh: “Farewell, then, Makoto.”
At Haramihama, while unhappy Kotonoha was engaged in the beauteous bonds of love for Makoto.
MM.VII The Kalends of March.
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