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Poem: "A Jewel Beyond Price" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
Poem: "A Jewel Beyond Price"

This poem came from the June 5, 2012 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by siliconshaman and sponsored by rix_scaedu.  A rōnin  was a masterless swordsman; some were honorable mercenaries, but many were just thugs and Japanese literature often portrays them as villains.

A Jewel Beyond Price

One day, a rude rōnin
went to visit a famous swordsmith
to commission a new sword.

"I have heard that you possess
a jewel beyond price,"
said the rōnin.
"I wish it to adorn my blade."

"That cannot be,"
the swordsmith said,
"for this particular jewel
is not suited for adornment."

"Is it made of jade?"
the rōnin  asked.
"I have seen swords and knives
decorated with jade before."

"No, it is not jade,"
the swordsmith replied.

"Then is it pearl?
Is it cinnabar?"
the rōnin  tried.

"It is such a jewel
as you have never seen,"
the swordsmith said.

"I will have a new blade,
and I will have that jewel upon it,"
the rōnin  insisted,
flinging down a string of coins.
Then he stalked away.

The swordsmith began work
on a fine new sword.
He heated and folded the steel,
shaped and polished the blade.
He wrapped the hilt
and made a beautiful sheath.

When the rōnin  returned
he demanded to see the sword.
The swordsmith bowed
and handed him the blade.

"This sword has no jewel!"
the rōnin  cried. 
"It is worthless."
With that, he flung it
over his shoulder.

The swordsmith's daughter
caught the hilt in midair
and cut off the rōnin's  head.

The swordsmith said,
"Now you have seen
the jewel upon the blade."

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2 comments or Leave a comment
tuftears From: tuftears Date: June 8th, 2012 07:36 am (UTC) (Link)
Cute. ^_^ I guessed what the jewel was from the third paragraph on.

Curiousity compels me to ask why 'string of coins' instead of 'sack of gold' or the like? String of coins would imply a bunch of Chinese copper coins stringed together, and it would take quite a few of them to buy a fine sword. Could speak of kan or ryo, perhaps.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: June 8th, 2012 07:45 am (UTC) (Link)


Some Japanese coins have holes too, based on the quick research I did.
2 comments or Leave a comment