Title:| The Damask Drum
(Aya no Tsuzumi)|
Author:| Unknown; Arthur Waley for English translation|
Characters:| The old gardener, the courtier and the princess| Setting:| Laurel Pond, the palace at Asakura|
Conflict:| The princess sends a message to the gardener that she will meet him at the pond and marry him if he beats the drum which she has placed in a laurel tree in the garden.| Climax:| The gardener tries to beat the drum but the drum was made with twill (aya) and so cannot sound. Realizing that he has been made a fool of, the gardener drowns himself in the pond.| Resolution:| The gardener returns as an evil ghost and torments the princess.| Denouement (if any):| NONE|
Plot & Summary:| An old gardener in the palace at Asakura, happens to catch sight of the Princess, and falls desperately in love with her. The Princess, having heard of his attachment, mentions that love transcends all class distinctions. She has a drum tied on the branches of a laurel tree by the Laurel Pond, and conveys a message to the effect that if the sound of the drum be heard in the palace, she will appear before the old man. Believing those words to be true and honest, he beats the drum. Somehow it does not sound. He continues beating it for days and months, thinking that he may have turned deaf owing to his old age. As it is, the drum is false, damask linen being stretched where skin should be. The old man, not knowing this, is sorely distraught with his failure, and flings himself into the pond. He is drowned.In the second part of the play, the old man comes out of the pond in the form of Avenging Ghost, and appearing near the Princess, torments her with repeated demands to sound the drum. She grieves over her mockery of the old man, but the ghost does not hear her. Seeing her in great grief, it at last disappears into the pond...