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Main > Japanese folktales > Fairy tale "The Star Lovers"

The Star Lovers

All you that are true lovers, I beseech you pray the gods for fair weather upon the seventh night of the seventh moon.

For patience’ sake and for dear love’s sake, pray, and be pitiful that upon that night there may be neither rain, nor hail, nor cloud, nor thunder, nor creeping mist.

Hear the sad tale of the Star Lovers and give them your prayers.

The Weaving Maiden was the daughter of a Deity of Light. Her dwelling was upon the shore of the Milky Way, which is the Bright River of Heaven. All the day long she sat at her loom and plied her shuttle, weaving the gay garments of the gods. Warp and woof, hour by hour the coloured web grew till it lay fold on fold piled at her feet. Still she never ceased her labour, for she was afraid. She had heard a saying:

“Sorrow, age-long sorrow, shall come upon the Weaving Maiden when she leaves her loom.”

So she laboured, and the gods had garments to spare. But she herself, poor maiden, was ill-clad; she recked nothing of her attire or of the jewels that her father gave her. She went barefoot, and let her hair hang down unconfined. Ever and anon a long lock fell upon the loom, and back she flung it over her shoulder. She did not play with the children of Heaven, or take her pleasure with celestial youths and maidens. She did not love or weep. She was neither glad nor sorry. She sat weaving, weaving ... and wove her being into the many-coloured web.

Now her father, the Deity of Light, grew angry. He said, “Daughter, you weave too much.”

“It is my duty,” she said.

“At your age to talk of duty!” said her father. “Out upon you!”

“Wherefore are you displeased with me, my father?” she said, and her fingers plied the shuttle.

“Are you a stock or a stone, or a pale flower by the wayside?”

“Nay,” she said, “I am none of these.”

“Then leave your loom, my child, and live; take your pleasure, be as others are.”

“And wherefore should I be as others are?” she said.

“Never dare to question me. Come, will you leave your loom?”

She said, “Sorrow, age-long sorrow, shall come upon the Weaving Maiden when she leaves her loom.

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