Merry Company on a Terrace, by Jan Steen, c. 1670. © The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Fletcher Fund, 1958.


Volume X, Number 4 | fall 2017


In her journal about life as a lady-in-waiting at Heian court, Sei Shonagon expresses her delight in men who keep a transverse flute tucked away in the breast of their robes. “There really is nothing more marvelous,” she writes. “And it’s delightful to discover beside your pillow at daybreak the handsome flute that your lover has inadvertently left behind him.”

The tune I remember, could I but keep the words.

—Virgil, 38 BC