The whistle of a freight passing through Ichigaya Station stabbed through his thoughts. It brought to his mind a man racked with an emotion so intense that he was like one rolling about on the ground to put out his flaming kimono. The heartrending cry of the man tumbling in the darkness was wrapped in a swirl of its own fiery particles and glowed red with its own blaze.

This train whistle, however, differed from the prison whistle with its false warmth of life. This voice, though twisted with anguish, somehow pulsated with a limitless freedom and offered a smooth access to the future. Another part of the country, another day - even the rust-covered phantom of a white, sour-faced morning suddenly appearing in the line of mirrors above the sinks on some station platform did not suffice to dispel the powerful attraction of strangeness the whistle conveyed.

Yukio Mishima, Runaway Horses, trans. by Michael Gallagher, Knopf, N.Y., 1973, p. 338 - 339.

PLACE: Japan

TIME: 1930's

CIRCUMSTANCE: sounds outside a prison window



One night he dreamed of a snake.

The setting was the tropics, perhaps the garden of a large mansion somewhere, which was surrounded by jungle so thick that the walls that bordered it could not be seen.

He seemed to be in the middle of this jungle garden, standing upon a terrace of crumbling grey stone. The house to which the terrace belonged could not be seen. There was nothing but this small, square terrace which defined a grey rocky zone of stillness, the curving stone images of cobras rising up from pillars set at each of its corners, like four outspread hands pushing back the heavy tropic air. A hot square of silence cut from the heart of the jungle.

He heard the whine of mosquitos. He heard the buzzing of flies. Yellow butterflies flew about. The cries of birds came down to him like drops of blue water ever failing. And, now and again, came still another bird cry, a frenzied cry that seemed to tear through the very midst of the intricate tangle of green vegetation. Cicadas were shrilling.

Rather than these varied sounds, however, what most affronted the ear was a roar like that of a sudden rainstorm. It was not, of course. A passing wind was shaking the jungle growth that bound the treetops together, far above the shaded terrace, but since its effect was not felt below, the only visible sign of its passing was the movement of the flecks of sunlight that dappled the cobras' heads.

Yukio Mishima, Runaway Horses, Trans. by Michael Gallagher, Knopf, N.Y., 1973, p. 340.

PLACE: Japan

TIME: 1930's

CIRCUMSTANCE: Isao (central character) dreams of death