In the corner of a busy street and the public square
she strummed her shamisen
inviting the harried passerby
to live in another time.
Who heeds the call of her three-stringed guitar
everyone is hurrying after his own star
with those few moments in his hand
could he even dare spare a second
to savor a different world
that before his eyes and ears unfolds?
Perhaps he will give her a passing glance
and a prayer for another chance
to tarry and linger just for a little while
a gift as precious as the coins in her pile.
Play on, Euterpe of the Streets
lift up your subjects’ sagging spirits
though the crowd is sparse
and there is little applause
Your silence is sure to leave a space
empty and wishing for your gifts.
This lady was playing her shamisen, the Japanese three-stringed guitar, in the corner of the public square in front of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Montreal. It was a joy to see her there. I would have loved to take more photos of her and listen some more but I did not even have a penny in my pocket to put in her box.
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