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Lion of Philosophy


Lion of Philosophy

Maria S. Mendes


"Lion of Philosophy" (“Tetsugaku no Lion”)




Lion is fond of "Philosophy".



That's because Snail kindly told him that a lion is King of Beasts who should look philosophical.



Today Lion thought he would be "philosophical".



He thought that this philosophy thing would seem better when one contrives a way to sit, so he sat on his belly with his tail curled to the right, and placed his paws on top of each other.



He then stretched his neck, and looked up to the right. This is a better way, judging from the way the tail is curled. If the tail goes right and the face goes left, he would end up looking spoony.



Beyond where Lion’s face was pointed to, there were miles of fields, with one lone tree standing.



Lion stared at the branches of the tree. The leaves on the branches swayed in the wind. Lion's mane also swayed from time to time.



(I wish somebody would come. When they ask me "What are you doing?", I will reply, "I'm doing philosophy".)



Lion stayed still, watching in the corner of his eye if somebody would come, but nobody came.



The dusk had fallen. Lion had stiff shoulders and he became hungry.



(Philosophy gives me stiff shoulders. When I'm hungry, philosophy is no good.)



He thought he'd finish with "philosophy" for today, and go over to Snail.



"Hi Snail. I was philosophy today."



"Hi Lion. That's great to hear. And how was it?"



"Yeah, it was like this."



Lion showed him how he was when he did philosophy.



Just like a few moments ago, he stretched his neck and looked up to the right, and then there was the sunset sky.



"Oh how wonderful it is! Lion, your philosophy is so beautiful and so magnificent!"



"Really? You said what? Could you tell me that again?"



"Sure, so beautiful and so magnificent!"



"Really? My philosophy is so beautiful and so magnificent? Thank you, Snail."



Lion forgot all about his stiff shoulders and hunger, and in a standstill, he has become philosophy.



Kudo Naoko, “Lion of Philosophy (Tetsugaku no Lion),” Tetsugaku no Lion. Tokyo: Risosha, 1982.



Akihiko Shimizu teaches Japanese at the University of Edinburgh. He also does research on Ben Jonson and early modern English literature. Years ago when Aki bumped into a three-line epigram by Jonson, he found it so baffling that he decided to find out what on earth the poem is on about. He ended up writing a PhD thesis, Ben Jonson and Character.