The Wind in the Pine
Long, long ago, so long that even the White Crane cannot remember it, in the Land of Fresh Rice Ears, the Land of the Reed Plains, there grew a Pine-Tree. It stood within the sound of the sea. Great it grew, and there was not a greater in all that land. Its trunk was rosy-red, and beneath it stretched a brown carpet of fallen pine-needles.
In the sweet nights of Summer the Fairy Children of the Wood came hand in hand in the moonlight, slipping their dark feet on the moss, and dancing on the pine-needles, and tossing back their long green hair. And the Fairy Children of the Water came, and the sparkling drops fell from their finger-tips. The Elfin Children of the Air rested in the pine-branches and murmured sweet music the livelong night.
And from the sea came the Wonder Children of the Waves, creeping, creeping up the yellow sand. And Lovers, wandering on the beach, heard sweet sighing above them.
‘Joy of my heart’, they said one to another, ‘do you hear the Wind in the Pine-Tree?’
Then came the Maiden; tall and slender she was, and most lovely. By day she sat in the shade of the Pine-Tree plying her wheel or her shuttle, while her ears listened to the Wind in its branches. Sometimes her eyes looked over the sea, and she sat as one who waits and watches. Often she sang, and her voice was like the singing of birds. The music of her words, mystic and sweet, floated out over the waves.
Now concerning the Youth. He dwelt far, far from the Maiden. By day he worked in the green rice-fields. He looked upon the valley and the streams. He gazed into the sky. He saw above him the great White Crane circling in the blue.
‘I hear a call’, he said. ‘I may tarry no longer! Voice in my heart, I hear and obey!’
And straightway he said farewell to his mother and father, and to his sisters, brothers, and friends; and getting into a boat, he sped over the sea. The White Crane flew behind the boat, and when the Wind failed, she pushed it forward with her strong wings.
At last one evening, at the setting of the Sun, the Youth heard the sound of sweet singing. He stood erect in his boat, and the White Crane, beating her wings, guided it to the yellow sand. And as the Youth sprang out upon the shore, the words of the singing came mystic and sweet:
Comes the Lover with a gift for his Maiden?
Jewels of Jade on a silken string!
Green as the grass!
All on a silken string.
Oh! the strength of that silken string!
And so he found the Maiden sitting in the shade of the Pine-Tree, weaving and singing. He stood before her, waiting.
‘Whence come you?’ said she.
‘I am come across the sea-path. I am come from afar.’
‘And why are you come?’ she said.
‘O Voice in my heart, it was your voice that sang!’
‘Do you bring me a gift?’ she said.
‘I bring you the gift, jewels of Jade upon a silken string.’
‘Come’, she said, and, taking him by the hand, led him to her father’s house.
So they drank ‘the Three Times Three’, and were wedded. So they lived in sweet tranquillity for many, many years.
At last the Youth and the Maiden that were, grew old and white-headed.
‘Fair Love’, said the old man, ‘how weary I am! ‘T is sad to be old’.
‘Say not so, Dear Delight-of-my-Heart’, answered the old woman, ‘say not so; the best of all is to come’.
‘My Dear’, said the old man, ‘I have a desire to see the great Pine-Tree once more before I die, and to listen to the Wind in its branches’.
‘Come, then’, said she.
And she rose and took him by the hand. Together they wandered on the shore, and sat on the brown carpet under the Pine-Tree, and they listened to the Wind in its branches.
The old man closed his eyes, and when he opened them, behold! his wife was no longer old, but tall, slender, and lovely! They were again the Youth and the Maiden! He touched her hand. Lightly they left the ground. To the sound of the Wind’s music they swayed, they floated, they rose into the air. They rose higher and higher. The branches of the Pine-Tree received them, and closed about them, and they were seen no more.
But still in the sweet nights of Summer the Fairy Children of the Wood come hand in hand in the moonlight, slipping their dark feet on the moss, dancing on the pine-needles, and tossing back their long green hair.
And the Fairy Children of the Water come, and the sparkling drops fall from their finger-tips. The Elfin Children of the Air rest in the pine-branches, murmuring sweet music the livelong night.
And from the sea come the Wonder Children of the Waves, creeping, creeping up the yellow sand. And Lovers wandering on the beach hear sweet singing above them.
‘Joy of my heart’, they say one to another, ‘do you hear the Wind in the Pine-Tree – the Wind, the Wind in the Pine?’
Adapted by Frances Jenkins Olcott (1919).
Under Public Domain.
This is one of the stories which I chose during my research, because it reached the depths of my soul. Why? I have no words or rational thoughts to explain the reason. These stories are simply stories that transmit, directly, the Mystery of Being in a ‘magical’ way, if you will. This is a mystery that, whenever it reaches us, overwhelms us, makes us feel very small and insignificant, makes us long for sweet dissolution within it.
And it could not be otherwise, in this Japanese story, that mystery is transmitted to us through its two greatest expressions: Nature and Love.
Silence … Let the words fall silent … Stop hindering the pure and direct perception of the Great Mystery … when it becomes present.
- Olcott, F. J. (1919). The Wind in the Pine. In The Wonder Garden: Nature Myths and Tales from All the World Over (pp. 326-330). Boston & New York: Houghton Mifflin Company.
Associated text of the Earth Charter
Preamble: Universal Responsibility.- The spirit of human solidarity and kinship with all life is strengthened when we live with reverence for the mystery of being, gratitude for the gift of life, and humility regarding the human place in nature.
Other passages that this story illustrates
The Way Forward: Let ours be a time remembered for the awakening of a new reverence for life, the firm resolve to achieve sustainability, the quickening of the struggle for justice and peace, and the joyful celebration of life.