Daily Dose: The Stonecutter

Add to TwitterToday, there’s something a little different on the Daily Dose: a folk tale. The Stonecutter is a Japanese story of unknown origin that is similar to the moral fables of Aesop. The following is a creative synopsis of the tale found on Wikipedia; full-length versions can be found at various sites online. Enjoy!

“Once upon a time a stonecutter was working near the side of a mighty rock. As he stood to pause from his hard labor for a minute, he observed a local landlord and his party passing underneath the shade of the trees nearby.

When the stonecutter saw this rich man in all his comfort, his work suddenly felt heavier and harder to him. “Oh, if only I were a rich man,” he sighed, “how happy I should be!” Suddenly a voice answered from the mountain: “Your wish is heard; a rich man you shall be!”

Children's illustration; Image ©Michael Kress-Russick

When the stonecutter returned home that evening, he found a magnificent palace where his hut once stood. The poor man was nearly beside himself with joy, and in his new life the old one was soon forgotten. One day, while he was walking around the marketplace, he felt the sun burn sharply on his face, and as he saw a prince, sitting in the cool shade of his carriage, he wished he was a prince. A prince he became, but still the sun scorched his face. The stonecutter then wished he would become the sun itself, and immediately it was granted.

As the sun, he felt mightier than all. His light stretched around the entire world and his rays shone on kings and fishers alike. But as he burned bright in the sky, a cloud moved in front of him and obscured his sight. “What is this!” he wondered, “a cloud is mightier than me! Oh how I wish I was a cloud.”

And a cloud he was, and he lay between the sun and the earth. He caught the sun’s beams and held them, and for days and weeks he poured forth rain till the rivers overflowed their banks, and the crops of rice stood in water. Towns and villages were destroyed by the power of the rain; only the great rock on the mountainside remained unmoved. “What is this!” he cried, “a rock is mightier than me! Oh how I wish I was a rock.”

And the rock he was, and gloried in his power. Proudly he stood, and neither the heat of the sun nor the force of the rain could move him. “This is better than all!” he said to himself. But one day he heard a strange noise at his feet, and when he looked down to see what it could be, he saw a stonecutter driving tools into his surface. Even while he looked, a trembling feeling ran all through him, and a great block broke off and fell upon the ground. Then he cried in his wrath: “Is a mere child of earth mightier than a rock? Oh, if I were only a man!”

And the mountain spirit answered: “Your wish is heard. A man once more you shall be!” And the poor man was content to remain a stonecutter for the rest of his life.”

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