So sweet to kiss, so fair to view,—
The night comes down, the lights burn blue;
And at my door the Pale Horse stands,
To bear me forth to unknown lands.
I dreamed I was in fair Niphon.
Amid tea-fields I journeyed on,
Reclined in my jinrikishaw;
Across the rolling plains I saw
The lordly Fusi-yama rise,
His blue cone lost in bluer skies.
At last I bade my bearers stop
Before what seemed a china-shop.
I roused myself and entered in.
A fearful joy, like some sweet sin,
Pierced through my bosom as I gazed,
Entranced, transported, and amazed.
For all the house was but one room,
And in its clear and grateful gloom,
Filled with all odors strange and strong
That to the wondrous East belong,
I saw above, around, below,
A sight to make the warm heart glow,
And leave the eager soul no lack,
An endless wealth of bric-a-brac.
I saw bronze statues, old and rare,
Fashioned by no mere mortal skill,
With robes that fluttered in the air,
Blown out by Art’s eternal will;
And delicate ivory netsukes,
Richer in tone than Cheddar cheese,
Of saints and hermits, cats and dogs,
Grim warriors and ecstatic frogs.
And here and there those wondrous masks,
More living flesh than sandal-wood,
Where the full soul in pleasure basks
And dreams of love, the only good.
The walls were all with pictures hung:
Gay villas bright in rain-washed air,
Trees to whose boughs brown monkeys clung,
Outlineless dabs of fuzzy hair.
And all about the opulent shelves
Littered with porcelain beyond price:
Imari pots arrayed themselves
Beside Ming dishes; grain-of-rice
Vied with the Royal Satsuma,
Proud of its sallow ivory beam;
And Kaga’s Thousand Hermits lay
Tranced in some punch-bowl’s golden gleam.
Over bronze censers, black with age,
The five-clawed dragons strife engage;
A curled and insolent Dog of Foo
Sniffs at the smoke aspiring through.
In what old days, in what far lands,
What busy brains, what cunning hands,
With what quaint speech, what alien thought,
Strange fellow-men these marvels wrought!
As thus I mused, I was aware
There grew before my eager eyes
A little maid too bright and fair,
Too strangely lovely for surprise.
It seemed the beauty of the place
Had suddenly become concrete,
So full was she of Orient grace,
From her slant eyes and burnished face
Down to her little gold-bronze feet.