From the Histories

The Shogun’s palace is surrounded
by a field of bells that always ring,
strung as they are on light ankle-high
wooden frames, designed to catch
the famous breeze lifting from the valley
and fanning constantly the open
courtyards and surrounding landscape
of this magnificent ancient dwelling.
So familiar is the movement of the air
to the Shogun, so deeply lodged
in the bloodline its seasonal changes
and daily agitations, that the orchestrated
music is as predictable to him
as his own heartbeat, and any disturbance
could indicate the advance of assassins
who, well-trained though they are
in the art of silent approach, cannot hear
an individual bell ring out of time
above the din. Even in drunken sleep
the Shogun knows when the tune is wrong
and wakes to dispatch his guards.
Thus his reign continues, and his family
will glorify the earth with their presence
for a thousand years, while their wives
and daughters stuff their ears with wax
and develop the intricate sign-language
for which their line is justly remembered.