Robin Camille Davis
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Excerpts from The Pillow Book, part 2

November 09, 2009
Tags: books, history

See part 1 for more info on The Pillow Book by Sei Shōnagon.

[157] Situations you have a feeling will turn out badly
A son-in-law who has a fickle nature and tends to neglect his wife, and who now hasn’t visited her for some time.
Someone given to lying nevertheless makes himself out to be capable and dependable, and is given an important task to undertake.
A boat with sails raised high in a strong wind.
Someone in their seventies or eighties who’s been ill for some days now.

[187] Winds
Storm winds. The soft wind of the third month that carries in gentle gusts of rain at evening.
And I love it when you open the lattice shutters or double doors at daybreak, and a sudden gust of stormy wind stings your face.
Around the end of the ninth month or in the tenth month, the sky darkens and a howling wind blows up, which spills the yellow leaves from the trees in flurries — a forlorn a touching sight. The leaves of cherry trees and elms are particularly quick to blow off.
Places that have a garden full of trees are marvelous around the tenth month.

[241] Things that just keep passing by
A boat with its sail up.
People’s age.
Spring. Summer. Autumn. Winter.

[242] Things that no one notices
All the inauspicious days.
The aging of people’s mothers.

[257] Things that give you pleasure
You’ve read the first volume of a tale you hadn’t come across before, and are longing to go on with it — then you find the other volume. The rest of it can sometimes turn out to be disappointing, however.
Piecing back together a letter that someone has torn up and thrown away, and finding that you can read line after line of it.
Someone you love is praised by others, and some high-ranking person comments that his talents are “not inconsiderable.”
When a poem that you’ve composed for some event, or in an exchange of poems, is talked of by everyone and noted down when they hear it. This hasn’t yet happened to me personally, but I can imagine how it would feel.
It’s very pleasing when someone you don’t know well mentions an old poem or story that you haven’t heard of, and then it comes up again in conversation with someone else. If you come across it later in something you’re reading, there’s the delightful moment when you cry, “Oh is THAT where it comes from!”, and you enjoy recalling the person’s mention of it.
Finding something you need in a hurry.
How could you fail to feel pleased when you win at a matching game, or some other kind of competition?
Managing to get the better of someone who’s full of themselves and overconfident. This is even more pleasing if it’s a man, rather than one of your own circle of gentlewomen. It’s fun to be constantly on your guard because you’re expecting him to try to get even with you, and it’s also fun to have been fooled into relaxing your guard over time, as he continues to act quite unconcerned and pretend nothing’s happened.
When someone you don’t like meets with some kind of misfortune, you’re pleased even though you know this is wicked of you.

What kinds of lists would you make in your Pillow Book?