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THE CHILDREN’S ISLE
Satin sails in a crimson dawn
Over the silky, silver sea.
Purple veils of the dark withdrawn;
Heavens of pearl and porphyry;
Purple and white in the morning light
Over the water the town we knew,
In tiny state, like a willow plate
Shone, and behind it the hills were blue.
There, we remembered, the shadows pass
All day long like dreams in the night,
There in the meadows of dim blue grass
Crimson daisies are ringed with white,
There the roses flutter their petals,
Over the meadows they take their flight,
There the moth that sleepily settles
Turns to a flower in warm soft light.
There when the sunset colours the streets
Everyone buys at wonderful stalls
Toys and chocolates, guns and sweets,
Ivory pistols and Persian shawls;
Everyone’s pockets are crammed with gold;
Nobody’s heart is torn with care,
Nobody ever grows tired and old,
And nobody calls you baby there.
There with a hat like a round white dish,
Upside down on each pig-tailed head,
Jugglers offer you snakes and fish,
Dreams and dragons and ginger-bread,
Beautiful books with marvellous pictures,—
Painted pirates and streaming gore
And everyone reads without any strictures
Tales he remembers forevermore.
There when the dim blue daylight lingers
Listening, and the West grows holy,
Singers crouch with their long white fingers
Floating over the zithern slowly;
Paper lamps with a peachy bloom
Burn above on the dim blue bough,
While the zitherns gild the gloom
With curious music! I hear it now.
The Flower of Old Japan.
OKAMA was making holiday.
His student life was over. An unknown world loomed before him. Just for today he would be a boy.
He strolled through the Kameido rejoicing in the motley amusements of the children’s fête. He bought a penny whistle and added his quota to the universal hubbub. He watched jugglers and wrestlers, fed monkeys, and played with the children.
Then, wearying of the crowd, he wandered to the lake.
A maiden stood on the Rainbow Bridge gazing idly at the gold-fish as they darted like flying flames through the darkling water. Pendent, purple tassels of wistaria framed her lithe figure, robed in a kimono of dove-grey crepe.
In the butterfly loops of hen blue-black hair nestled a spray of cherry bloom.
Okama smiled; never had he seen a more enchanting creature. Approaching the maid with quiet courtesy he offered her a handful of mochi (rice cakes).
“Fairest of maids art thou,” he murmured, “as Kameido is the queen of parks.”
The girl laughed a rill of silver and tossed a mochi to the carp.
“Fairer than ever it seems,” he sighed,” now that I am about to leave for many years.”
“You gon’ ver’, ver’ far?” she asked with ill-concealed solicitude.
“To America,” he frowned moodily.
“’Merica!” she cried. “Way down bottom of worl’!”
“Why do you persist in looking down?” he complained.
The maiden gave no answer.
Then, pointing to the water he smiled: “I like it better now.”
“Why?” she asked naively.
“Because I see you down there in America with me. That is a good omen. I will go.”
“Better liddle snail an crawl noun’ won’, as stay for aever mossy tile on house top!” she babbled, paraphrasing an ancient proverb.
“The snail will crawl till it reaches the goal!” he said firmly.
“Then liddle snail skip back to Sakura San?” she queried wistfully.
“Yes, Cherry Blossom,” he laughed, “I shall come from the bottom of the world.”
“I gon’ wait,” she smiled. “I gon’ wait for you all my million lives, Sayonara, Honourable-Husbandto-be,” and tossing a mochi to the carp she pattered down the rainbow archway.
The creaking windlass slacks its rattling chain,
And raucous voices of the swart-skinned crew
Are stilled as shrill the farewell whistle blew,
The broad-beamed scows, which from the distant plain
Brought endless tubs of sake melt in rain;
The engine’s throb and ever-whirling screw,
Churning to foam the sea’s unruffled blue
All fill me with a sense of loneliness and pain.
For I am oil to ceaseless toil and strife
In that far land ‘neath the horizon’s rim,
And may not know again for many years
The glamour of my joyous, child-like life,
And, as the town-lights glimmer, vague and dim,
I am not sure if ‘tis through mist or tears.
Only a little, smiling Japanese,
Though kingly blood is flowing in my veins.
Dishonoured here, my forebears o’er the seas,
With their twin swords, washed out dishonour’s stains.
Only a little, smiling Japanese.
Only a little, alien Japanese,
No suffrage may I claim, howe’er I choose
To toil and take the starving wage you please.
What have I done, the guerdon meet to lose?
Only a little alien Japanese.
Only “a little, yellow Japanese!”
The scum of Europe throng your fetid streets.
And fester here in filth and dread disease.
My race, though white, scorn and injustice meets,
Only “a little, yellow Japanese!”
Only a little smiling Japanese,
In silence stifling my indignities,
And blithe at heart as are the busy bees;
But in the years that soon will come, mayhap,
You’ll change your mind about the little Jap.
SAN FRANCISCO, March 15, 1863.
Please excuse honourable English. I write it so your august parents not make spyings at our affections.
Ah! it is not without symbolism that United State is situate on bottom side of earth. All Merican moralities are likewise down-side up.
On the yesterday I behold honourable Samurai at parting of wife subject her to revolting kiss-ceremony! You imagine not such disgustingness.
The participapers place their mouths shamelessly in conjunction, then explode breath noisomely as child’s orange-juice-sucking!
Merican female-ladies is most frightsome.
I make boldness to address one in hotel, cigarette-stalk-selling. Her hair is a redness of demons. Her eyes a monstrousness of cow. She masticate ceaseless sweetmeat I have vainsome endeavour for eat. But it is immortal as gods, refusing to perish under tooths or digestum. Her name is Mees Maud.
“Flower names Japanese female prefer.” I explain.
“Chambermaid-lady possess pure, spotness name Lily,” she but in dispolitely.
This I uncover is most surprise, for Lily is African female of midnightness complexion!
More I see of Merican female-women more I am enamelled of you. Everywhere I go in solitary like off-cast rose. My liver leap with disgust and I make tear-droppings from eye like Pacific Ocean.
My fortunes are at height of lowness, and rain pour through hat I stole from scare-crow.
Hoping that you are the same.
Your faithless, insignificance servant
I disclose poem I decompose for you.
At the midnighty -- all by loneness only God and self,
In beastful slumber snores the universe.
Palpitating on lonesome couch, like ship on ocean,
Besat by boneless winds of black disgust,
With sleepness eye and wild wide-opened soul,
I contemplate the memories of bygone in light of ink
Until, alas, the voice of winds erupt about my dwelling:
God made the midnighty for dream of lonesome love.
Oh! delicious pain of love!
Flit in by bursted window with Lady Moon welcome!
Ever a genteel violet upgaze her damp blue eye.
Ever a reddy rose manicure thorn against window-pane,
Alas! such bright sun-blossoms not for cast-off Jap boy!
I have such of none hope not at all.
Only a withered, black, night-coloured soul!1
T0KIO, May 30, 1863.
1Transcribed from English as she is Japped, by Basil Hall Chamberlain.
MOST RESPECTABLE SIR:
How true the proverb that “heart of man changes more swiftness as autumn sky.”
How can you be so crule to make forgiddings your love some Cherry Blossom for those big, bad Barbarian-female-women.
I am submerged in sorrowful of your unkindsomeness.
I make studyings in Honourable Children’s-Noise-Making-Place; (Kindergarten) and am learn Merican Battle Hymn Star-Spangled Banner and Columbia Jam of the Ocean.
Now is that springtime. Littel birds is songing and flowers is smiling bright perfumery at blue heavens. Pretty soonly I go Kameido-bridge-roaming enjoy delightsome sorrowful thought of you. Ah! dear Okama, moon is shining through shoji. I think of old-fashion-by-gone sing-song:
“The sky is sea
Where cloud waves sway.
The moon is boat
On sky afloat.
To stars so free
It sail away.
“Would I on sea,
Like moon in sky,
Might float like boat
To stars and thy!”
January 1, 1864.
HONOURABLE SAKURA SAN,
I have honour to denounce through influenza of Mees Maud I have secure desireful position whereat 1 support self by same time I make night-school-studyings. I am honourable-assistance-barber to Italian samurai Christofo-Colombo-Santa-Maria-Garibaldi!
When in gratesomeness I demean myself to make Merican kiss-ceremony by Mees Maud she say:
“Cut mush stuff, Kid. Crissy C’lumbo give you buff in slats. He’s my steady. See?”
Wherefor I make observation moralities of Merican female-lady more great than I imagination.
My most best cuspidor is corpulent daimio I have honour to make shampooing and ice-towels when he outcomes steam-bath in alcoholler status, with brain-ache of great frightfulness.
His name is George Washingtown Steal. When I require: “Can do deeds of Washtown?” he explode:
“Can do what George Washingtown could never. Can tell lie. By those doings I am become Congreaseman.”
“Will take me to Washtown for study politic ecomics, so I becoming Barbarian diplomat?” I require with eye-wink.
“Perhapsly,” he response, his corpulency shaking like Tokio earth-quake.
Hoping you suffer good healthy, and likesome Honourable Ancestors,
I disclose poetical-spasms in praise of sufferingents, because I have brain-storm.
“O ladies, during idle moments
Inclined to make coyness with giggly expression
Yet when sick-sorrow-time of brain-ache come along
You are very skilful about being an angel.”
The coldest ice, the hottest heat
Are Female-Woman’s power on earth;
Sinz Eve did Adam’s appel eat
And make a pair-a-dice his place of birth.
For where? For why? Can thou tell me?
For what did Nature destine you?
Cement of Nations, Sphinxly mystery!
To bound man’s hart with loving social glue!
If thou be move from erth, Good-by!
What dark disgust oerhelm the human flocks!
Then who to populous? Or make reply?
Or diner cook? Or darn the holy sox?
How sweet, how useless, full of mirth!
What boon-thing can exceed on erth?
Man’s blessing and his oftenest curse,
His chest-protector and his cross-red-nurse.1
TOKIO, May 20, 1864.
1 Transcribed from Things Japanese by B. H. Chamberlain.
HONOURABLE DEAR MISTER:
I am sorrowful to learn you make shameless Merican female-woman-kees ceremony. If you don hg’ your little Sakura San no more, then I marry beeg Hairy Barbarian Russian, Vasiline Villanoff.
Ha! Ha! Ha! laughing inside self he so diriculous, look like great beeg ape.
I sending you by Merican Maru one liddle present hoping will be sprize. Now you wonder what those are?
Somethings I uncover in curious shop: your honourable Samurai Sword! How I pay? Liddle, significant pearl from neck-lacings.
What you thing? Beeg Hairy Villanoff he sneak in shop see me buy that sprize for you. Dirty Russian Spy! He Threatenings to told Honourable Fadder less I make Barbarian kees-ceremony. I not like him told, so I suffer those noisome lip-suckings.
Hoping you eggscuze me so torrible misdoing.
Yours very obedient truly
R. S. V. P.
Here is love-song I tie to plum-tree on poem-writings-day, hoping kindsome dragon-fly carry to you.
“When I recall to memory
Those days before we met,
How disgustfull they seem to me
And full of long regret
‘Tis though I not had bloomed ere yet
I first met love and thee!”
THE QUEST OF THE GOLDEN SCALE
Darsuka was a ronin brave
And he loved Eikibo fair,
A geisha, light as a foam-flowered wave,
Demure and debonair.
He wooed the maid with passion bold,
As a reckless ronin can,
But she only laughed, a laugh of gold,
And clicked her painted fan.
“Your vows are vain as the fleeting dew,
Or the fickle butterfly,
That steals a sip from the lotus blue,
Then wings to the summer sky.”
“Nay, Sweet,” he cried, “to prove my love
I will plunge for the pearls of sea,
Or soar the sky to the stars above
And steal the moon for thee!”
The geisha laughed: “Twill naught avail,
Unless you bring as proof,
A golden scale from the dolphin’s tail
On the ridge of the castle roof.
“Then bring the scale and I will know
Your heart both true and brave!
Farewell, my friend, I now must go
To my dance of the foam-flowered wave.”
So the ronin bold made a giant kite,
Like a monstrous winged-whale,
And he soared the sky one stormy night
And he sundered the golden scale,
With a single stroke of his dagger bright,
From the golden dolphin’s tail!
But he dropped the scale with a sudden scream,
Through a rift in the wrack of night,
The moon shone forth with a silver gleam
And revealed the ronin’s kite!
Darsuka, seized by the castle band,
Was condemned by the daimio’s word;
And he fearless sheathed, with his own right hand,
In his loins, his naked sword!
The geisha whirled no more, we’re told,
Her waltz of the foam-flowered wave;
For they found her, stabbed with a scale of gold,
On the reckless ronin’s grave!
“In the offing floats a fleet of fishing junks”
“Their great square sails of open-seamed matting billowing in the breeze”
Cherry-Blossom and her Koto
(Permission Theodore Wores and Century Magazine)
A little fishing village hugs the rocky shore, its straw-thatched cottages shouldering each other into the sea. Upon the beach on slender bamboo poles the tattered nets are spread to dry. In the offing floats a fleet of fishing junks, their great square sails of open-seamed matting billowing in the breeze.
From the latticed bulwarks blue-bloused fishers, singing at their task, haul up the dripping nets while the helmsman beats time with a mallet to their mournful drone.
The light glints from their sun-bronzed bodies as they glide like mermaids through the jade-green waters.
Suddenly the raucous chug-chug of a motor-launch breaks the stillness and they scatter like frightened dolphins pursued by a greedy shark.
“What a chorus for the Rhinegold!” laughed a big, blond Russian as the startled maidens scampered to covert.
“I camp right here,” he commanded, beaching the launch; then crashed into the undergrowth in pursuit of Lotus, fairest of the pearl-maidens.
Fleet as a fawn she darted through bog and bracken, doubling on her tracks in frantic effort to reach the sea. But with every step the amorous Viking gained upon his gentle quarry.
Breathless with the chase and faint with exhaustion the trembling girl tripped and fell.
He caught her in his arms and kissed her roughly.
The maid went white and buried her face in her hands; then, wriggling like a serpent, struggled free.
“Listen little Devil,” laughed the Russian, “I am Master here and you are going to be Mistress of the Master!”
“That all same big Barbarian’s wife?” she queried dubiously.
“H’m, precisely, precisely,” he nodded.
“You promise faithless drink those three times three sake-cups with me?”
“Many more than that, my little Rhine maiden,” he protested vehemently.
“What you do for me supposings I marry with you? You gon’ climb topside Nagoya Castle steal those goldy-dolphin fish, all same Darsuka do for geisha-girl? Yaes?”
“Certainly,” he promised, “I’ll climb the sky and steal the moon for you.”
“Yaes, thass what Darsuka say. Then he make his-self honourable-killing, for cause those dance-foam-flower-wave. You so brave fool, love me lig all those?”
Villanoff crushed her in his powerful arms, and kissed her long upon the lips.
“Oh, how those is nize!” she laughed. “I naever ‘magine Barbarian kees-ceremony half so sweet!”
NEW YORK, Sept. 21, 1864.
LADY OF SPRING-FRUITS BLOSSOM,
Those samurai sword I sold for steamer ticket is come. I thankings you from bottom heart; but thing mebby if you not faithfulness I make honourable seppuku, then come back do same to sinful Russian!
What you spose? Most unpossible wonderfully thing is happen. Honourable Congreaseman Steal is send me to Merican Adversity.
Here I educate in Politic Ecomics and Denaturalized Law, and by same time require difficult art of tripe-writer, a musical instruments that makes letter-printings.
I hope, by virtuous of this scarce accomplishments, to require some high financials.
I have misfortunate obsequies in examinations.
Inspectorator say must speak fluidly two dead languages and two living tongues.
1. Japanese, Living. 2. Chinese, Dead.
3. Dead Chinese. 4. Living Japanese.
But those species-of-fictions not satisfaction. Then I make substitutings:
1. Living Japanese. 2. Dead Chinese.
3. English, Living. 4. Dutch, Dead.
Then Honourable Inspectorator entirely satisfaction.
I have join following Associations:
Society for Preservation of Cruelty to Animals.
Consolidated Jap-American Native Sons.
Young Men’s Intemperance Union.
Enclose please find photographer I have executed for you. Maybe you not reconize for disguise of Derby hat and Merican mustache. How you like?
Please excuse following philosophical spasm, I decompose for Society of Idiotic Transactions:
Immense Awful Mystery of Life
“A littel learning are most dangerously!”
Like sightless beggars groping in the dusk,
One blind-man feels the elefantys tusk:
“Tis like sharp sword!” he glote with glueish glee,
Another feel his side: “A wall!” cry he.
A third his trunk embrace: “A sarpint dread!”
A forth his tale: “All same a rope!” he said,
The last his legs: “‘Tis some great-gnarly-tree!”
Thus each a portion feels, nor heeds the whole,
Swareing his fellow lie, like blind-mans we
But feel one symblem those black mystery
Of elefantine bulk men name-sake Life!
Blind-bluffing-blind! in game of infant strife
We make a Buddha minus only—Soul!
December 15, 1868.
DEAR MISTER FOOLISHNESS:
I think you not nize make scoldings at your loving Cherry Blossom.
Hairy Vasiline Villanoff he not nothings to me. He only Honourable Fadder’s fren; sold him ole fashion useless guns for fortifications.
Now he gone Pearl-fisherings. That make me ver’, ver’ happiness, cause for I see him naever more.
What you thing? One ver’ dreadful, tarrible thing is happen. Honourable Shogun make rebellion on Heaven-descended Emperor, same time Honourable Fadder make shootings on Merican sail-junks and star-spangled banner!
Pretty soonly dreadsome Tojins come back, beeg, black volcano war-junks bust Shimonoseki thousand million pieces. All beautiful city burn blazes.
I plore you stop those frightsomeness, make those Merican Eagle fold his wings like Peace Dove and lie in lap of Japanese Dragon.
I so happiness you not here, for cause you Hairy Barbarian mustache mebby Honourable Fadder keel you.
I have join Honourable Ladies Suffering-gents, on account of down-troddy condition Japanese female women.
FLOWER-BRIDE, THAT MAY SOMETIME BE:
I very much sorry your august Father shoot on Uniteds State ship. Mericans are very indignation.
Now I make hurryings to Washington fix up that Shimonoseki-shootings.
What you spose? Congreaseman Steal take me for be Private Secretary.
Pretty soonly he demand instructions Japanese Politics Ecomics. Wherefore I write honourable speech for him.
But I horrify see he falsify those fact to prejucate gainst Japan.
So I borrow secretly Honourable Steal’s frockaway coat-unicorn, make ceremonial-tea in White Palace with august heaven-descended President Useless S. Grant!
I tell him how your Honourable Father is persuade to emboil himself by sinful Russian.
Heaven-descended President make chewings on big cigar long time, then promise remit those $700,000 indemnity. Now your august Father not be ruin in his financials.
I so happiness I make honourable beer-ceremony with scorched dog-biscuit and camel’s-hair cheese.
But next morning Congreasman Steal denounce:
“Jap-Boy! Your honourable attentions is no longer desire, you are permit to skedaddle. 23. Fare bye forever!”
I experience by-gone proverb:
“Mouth is front-gate all misfortune.”
Hoping you are the same through eight thousand million carnations.
Through window glows dawn-blush-sunbeam, I make remembrance your pink cheeks and old fashion
Japanese Love Song
Hana ka toté koso,
Hi wo kurasé
Akinu ni otoni
Akané sasura su.
‘‘Flower One why, fore wedding day
Glows those dawn-blush ere the hour?
Can it be, Sweet, tell me pray,
Thou does love me, Flower?”
Crossing the ferry o’er Sumida’s tide
I met one day a lad of gentle mien,
More fair than any youth I e’er had seen,
Who wooed me tenderly to be his bride.
Wherefore I chided not, nor sought delay,
But yielded to his fond solicitude;
And we were wed upon that very day
And drank the nuptial sake sweet and good.
Since when more dear than life he seems to me,
Now that my brooding doubts have passed away,
My heart is clear as swift Sumida’s flood.
Like two Miyako birds we never part,
But while with flying wing the fleeting hours,
Content with little wealth, but rich of heart,
Heedless of harm, like ever-blooming flowers.
But more than wealth or treasure is the joy,
Dearer than cherry-bloom, the bliss I know
To dwell forever with my blond-haired boy
Until we reach the shore of silver hair.
Heaven grant we fare together when we go
Across the wonder-ferry, whither-where!
Behind a screen of slender, pale bamboo a cottage rears its mossy roofs. A brooklet, crystal pure, pours its blithe cadence over mossy stones. Smiling iris like little children peer from dew-drenched lids. Cicadae are singing in the pines. The air quivers with myriad life.
Beyond, far away in the infinite blue, motionless, calm, and mysterious, stainless with eternal snow, shimmers, like a pallid phantom, the dawn-kissed crest of Fujiyama.
One day, in the month of plum-blossoms, came a baby, a big, blue-eyed, flaxen-haired boy.
O Hasu San (Lotus Blossom), joyous as only a Japanese mother can be, laughingly named it “Debbie,” from its father’s favourite oath.
“You beeg, beautiful Russian how surprize you popper be wen he see you! “What you thing he gon’ do?” she demanded savagely.
But the baby only gurgled and rolled its great round eyes.
“You don’ know. Then I tol’ you. He gon’ make that kees-ceremony many, many time till he mos’ smother us.
“Then he say: ‘Sacramenski! That mos’ fine’ man-male boy-baby in whole world!”
Catching up her samisen, Lotus crooned a lullaby:
Sleep, Little One, sleep!
When was my baby made?
In the April month of the cherry bright
Wherefore his face is as pink and white.
A blossom that shall not fade.
Sleep, happily sleep.
Sleep, my Pretty One, sleep
Safe with thy mother nigh,
My love for thee is as strong and deep
As the numberless trees on the mountains steep,
As the countless leaves of the forest high
And the myriad stars of the endless sky.
Sleep, my Little One, sleep!
“Blue eyes,” she laughed, straining him to her breast.
“Those glory Sun-Goddess Amaterasu send you me from Rainbow Bridge of Hebben.”
The baby opened two wide cerulean eyes. “Sky-blue eyes and goldy ha—are, and such peenk cheeks, all same Ueno cherry bloom! Was ever babe like those?”
“Blub, blub,” bubbled the baby, kicking in characteristic assertion of sex.
Lotus shook him belligerently and made as if to chasten his spankable plumpness.
“Yaes,” she laughed, “you lig your fadder! Great beeg Tojin. You most beautiful boy-debble in all world!”
Out of a leaden sky came a sudden flurry of sleet and hail.
The sampans rocked in the offing, like writhing spirits. The shoji creaked and groaned with each passing gust.
The baby slept pig-a-back on the shoulders of its child-mother. She crooned an Izumo folk-song:
“Snow-flakes! Hail-stones, ever turning!
In your kitchen, what a row!
Beans are boiling, soup is burning.
Baby squalling. Dad returning.
Isn’t that a pretty mix of flurry-worry now?”
Suddenly Lotus started as she caught the sound of a shuffling step.
She ran to the shoji.
The babe uttered a quick, sharp wail.
Staggering through the doorway, his eyes bloodshot with sake, Villanoff lurched in.
O Hasu San inclined herself in piteous appeal.
“You damned Yellow Devil,” he muttered, kicking her upon the face. Then, spying the infant:
“Whose brat is that?” he shouted.
“Youse,” smiled the mother, wiping her bleeding forehead.
Villanoff broke into a volley of foul imprecations. Then, tearing the baby from her cuffed it into senseless silence.
“So, this is what you do when I leave you! Instead of diving for pearls. A fine pearl this!”
Lotus faced him with dilated nostrils and heaving breast:
“Vasili!” she gasped, “why you looking at me like? What have I make?”
“What!” he laughed. “You know well enough. Get out or I’ll kill you!” he thundered, throwing her to the floor.
“Spare me, for love of liddle Debbie!” she pleaded clinging to his knees. “Think of those happy days we make Miyako-bird together. I will naever, naever lose my hold. You can not outcast me. I swear ‘fore all those thousand million gods I been true good faithful wife. You have not heart for keel me!”
He struggled to withdraw her clinging arms but, strive ns he might, he could not tear them off.
“Listen,” she implored, “we go far off Tojin country, live foraever happiness. I promise make forgiddings aevry things, and naever make you angry, only always peace and love.”
Villanoff wrenched himself free and drew his revolver. Then, fearing, if he fired, that he might be convicted of murder, crashed the butt upon her face!
Blood raining from her forehead, O Hasu San fell, breathing a prayer for her husband:
“Namu Amida Butsu!” she moaned, “he no knowing what he make!’
MOST TOPSY-TURVY LOVE-LETTERS
TOKIO, Jan. 18, 1871.
HEART’S DEAREST, OKAMA SAN:
How can thank for those wonderfully thing you do for thar Japan.
Alast! how unconvenient is those English languish for repress my love.
No more shall I call you Honourable Sir never, Dictionary say it is “servilious title of thing what have no compensation.”
O my dear dishonourable Okama, ever you shall have compensations of my love.
I have mos’ sorrowfull tail to tell. One day I make wandering round Nagoya castle, see girl with boy-child making tear-droppings.
She tell me ver’ ver’ sad story. One time was pearl-maiden. Then come beeg foreign Debble-husband bring liddle boy-child. They all, all happiness till suddenly he out-cast her. Now she make wanderings aevrywhere for find him, crazy of love.
She thinks she those Eikibo what dance flower-foam-wave. Say Darsuka come on big kite, steal Goldy Dolphin for her.
I give sweet-meats liddle boy, ask what he name.
Now what you thing? He say: “Debble, Liddle Debble Villanoff!”
Then I look him very searchful. Ah! those blue eye, those goldy hare. Sure is sinful Russian’s child!
Then she run away. Naever I find her no more.
When I tell August Fadder, he laugh, say all is lies.
Those Vasiline Villanoff make talking with Honourable Idler. He say Sakura San mus’ marry with sinful Russian!
O, my brave Fairy Prince, come quickness, save me from ape-face Barbarian.
Yours in despair
K. S. V. P.
I make Moon-Dream sing-song for you. It sound most sweetly to Koto-strumming.
Last night I dream, when moon-beams make
Kiss-ceremony to iris-flower,
When amorous frogs make song in mud-pool
And stork-bird stand with bill neath wing-bone.
Delicious pain of heart intoxication!
I rejoice with lonesome bliss of joyous sorrow,
With laughing soul!
And voice of disembowelled spirit,
To overhelming disgust of august parent,
Rather than drink sake-cup with sinful Russian
I will commit honourable hara-kiri
Or cut my lovesome locks and be a Nun!
February 30, 1871.
O MY MOST ALWAYS-FRAGRANT CHERRY BLOSSOM:
How distressful to think you have such heart-bursting experience.
Yet I also little happy you comprehensive wickedness of shameless Villanoff.
Never will I suffer him touch so much as your tabi.
“Liddle Snail,” is coming ver’ ver’ fast. Unexpectable event is perspire.
In recognition those trifle ‘demnity-service Mikado make me Commissary to Vienna Exposition. So I is untold happiness for have Bank Savings for sewerage passage; soonly come to Sakura San, make Kameido-Bridge-roaming, hear Japanese hum-bee by silverous stream.
Morever, if you is willing defy Honourable Fadder, we marry and go far Vienna-country together.
When I think this I most crazy of joy.
O, my soon-be-bride, this only hope renumerate all those years of loneless toil.
Will you be change, my Flower? Only one thing naever change through all my million hives—my love for Sakura San!
Such wonder-sweetness met my eye
Those day I first see you.
The cherry snow-flakes fell from sky,
Heaven’s tears from out the blue.
You seemed like flowery fairy sprite
Awing like butterfly
A wild -wood Blossom, ghostly white,
Blown from a blither sky.
Since then, what e’er the time of year,
The Cherry Blossoms sing;
Within my heart forever, Dear,
The world is spring!
Long ages syne, so mossy legends tell,
There dwelt, in flowery-fair Izumo’s isle,
A lady-fox of gentle, guileless spell,
Beloved by all good folk for many a mile.
Glad were they if, at eve against the pane,
She softly tapped her silken, snow-white tail,
And swift would ope the door, with gladness fain
To give her of their cheer and welcome hale;
The whiles with graceful gambol she would play
The babes among—then steal back to the vale.
Long ages syne, so mossy legends say.
But wicked hunters spied man fair
One summer evening frisking in the wood,
And straightway, thirsting for her guileless blood
With cruel hounds pursued her to her lair.
Fleetly she fled across the rice-green plain,
Like flame before the wind, seeking to gain
The temple of the fox-god in the deli
And find therein a refuge not in vain.
Long ages syne, so mossy legends tell.
Now Prince Yashima knelt within the fane
Telling his beads, in contemplation bent.
Inari, trembling sore and sorely spent,
Ran to the Prince, and hid beneath his train!
With pity moved, he stroked her snowy nose:
“Fear not,” he smiled, “I’ll shield you from your foes!”
Then straight man shed her great dismay;
When sudden at the door the huntsmen rose!
Long-ages syne, so mossy legends say.
“Hast spied a snow-white fox?” they questioned him,
Seeking its life to slake their bloody lust,
“Nay!” swore Yashima, faithful to his trust,
“Naught have I seen within the temple dim.”
The huntsmen turned, about to quit the door,
When swift, beneath the robe Yashima wore
With greedy eyes and mad, triumphant yell,
They spied a trembling tail upon the floor!
Long ages syne, so mossy legends tell.
With wrathful cries demanded they their prey,
Stoutly the Prince refused, a boar at bay!
They rush upon him bent on murder dire,
With sword and pike the lacquered mail strikes fire!
Whereat the Prince laughed low with bitter mirth,
And laid about him with such valiant worth,
That, in the frantic press and red affray,
He felled his caitiff foemen to the earth!
Long ages syne, so mossy legends say.
Then from the shadows fell an eerie rune.
He turned, and to his mazèd eyes, a sprite,
A maiden fairer than the autumn moon,
Stepped from the darkness out into the light.
Yashima told her of the fox snow-white,
Beset by cruel hunters in the deli,
And how he saved it by his valiant might,
And softly she bespake the lovesome knight,
Long ages sync, so mossy legends tell.
With tender words of fond solicitude,
She solaced then his grief with such sweet ruth
He saw the dream was true in very sooth,
Whereat the maid right manfully he wooed.
She, nothing loth, his passion did requite
And they were wed, and after, many a day
In joyance dwelt in fair Izumo bright,
Blessing the gods that brought them such delight.
Long ages syne, so mossy legends say.
Now on a day when sultry was the sky,
A son was born to crown their cup of bliss.
Whereafter wept the Princess grievously,
And when Yashima asked what was amiss,
She took his hand and said: “My husband fair,
Our life has been a dream of long delight;
But now the Ape-god calls me to his lair!
I am none other than the fox snow-white
Whom once you sheltered from the huntsmen fell;
Farewell, my Prince!” Then swiftly took her flight
Long ages syne, so mossy legends tell.
And never more, in fair Izumo’s isle,
Was seen the snow-white fox, beloved so well
By all good folk around for many a mile.
But when an ebon fox descends the dell
The trembling peasants whisper in dismay:
“The Ape-god comes to steal our babes away!”
Long ages syne, so mossy legends tell.
“I am none other than the fox, snow-white;
But now the Ape-god calls me to his lair”
“Spurring into the midst, with a blow of his sabre Minamoto severed a Cossack’s head”
A maiden stood upon the “Rainbow Bridge,” gazing idly into the lake.
A breeze fluttered her white-fox furs, and drawing the mantle about her shoulders she raised her head.
“I have found you at last, my little Fox Bride,” cried Okama.
“Yaes,” she stammered, “I poor hunted fox, hg liddle man. You great beeg hero, hg Prince Yashima. Hide me ‘neath your coat-tail. Protect me from Ape-God Russian. Cause why? I your liddle Foxy Bride, an’ you gon’ marry me, take me Vienna-country foraever and aever!”
“Yes,” he promised, embracing her in true Western fashion, “nothing shall part us now, my Cherry Blossom.”
She laughed roguishly:
“Oh! how that is sweet. Where you learn those embrace? You been make kees-ceremony with blue-eye Merican female-lady!”
“No, never,” protested Okama. “Look, little Fox-Bride, I have brought you the very pearl with which you ransomed my sword.”
She gave a little joyous cry: “Oh! I so glad, cause ole Ape-Face he say if I objections marry him he tell how I buy the samurai sword. Then Honourable Fadder make tarrable swearings, cause I compromise of you.
“Now I put pearl back on neck-loose, then say: ‘Honourable Fadder, count! Where is those pearl what not was? Where is?’”
“What right has this scoundrel to frighten you?” Okama demanded indignantly.
“Not no light,” she faltered, “jus only one liddle thing. Pretty soon he gon’ marry me, thaz all!”
He winced as though struck upon the face.
“You are betrothed!” he gasped.
“Yaes,” she shuddered. “Honourable Fadder blige me do those tarrable thing. Mebbe you bedder go. Naever can I make talkings with you aever more.”
“Where the devil are you, Cherry Blossom?” called a gruff voice. “I’ve been looking for you all over the park.”
“All light. I coming, Honourable Villanoff, I coming,” she laughed.
“Sayonara, foraever,” she whispered and pattered down the Rainbow Archway.
In a fashionable Viennese café, the Tzigane orchestra was playing a last languorous waltz. On the waves of its melody Okama drifted to the shores of his dear Japan.
The music stopped. One by one the guests departed; a waiter was turning out the lights.
“Are you sure we are alone?” whispered a voice in an adjoining alcove.
Okama pricked his ears.
“Yes, your Excellency,” replied another.
“Good, let us get down to business,” growled the first.
“You know as well as I that it’s the Gibraltar of the Orient. It commands the Yellow Sea and is the key to Manchuria.”
“Exactly,” assented the other, “fifty miles from Tsushima. Midway between Vladivostok and Pont Arthur, an ice-free port big enough to shelter a world’s fleet. Masampo is the ideal naval base. But, your Excellency, I fail to see how this concerns me.”
“Have patience. I am coming to the point. Listen, Villanoff. You must go to Masampo and, pretending you are the agent of a Japanese steamship company, little by little purchase from the Koreans all the strategic sites surrounding the harbour.
“I will give you letters to our agents in Fusan who will assist you. Having acquired the sites you will set about building fortifications.
“Buy the Koreans who stand in your way, they are all corrupt.”
“A pretty scheme,” laughed Villanoff. “But what do I get? What was my reward in that Shimonoseki fizzle?
“I am doing some promising gold-fishing now. Did you notice the little beauty with me at the opera last night? The richest catch in Japan, and I’ve nearly landed her.
“No, thank you, your humble servant has had enough of unrequited patriotism!”
“How would an admiral’s commission strike you?” asked the first speaker, tentatively.
He shook his head.
“A patent of nobility?”
Villanoff shrugged. “Masampo means Korea, Manchuria, China. It is worth the highest price!”
“Alliance with a Princess then?”
“Very well,” laughed Villanoff. “Make it a royal Princess and I go!”
“Who in blazes fired that rocket?” muttered the captain. “The ship is not in danger.”
“Look, look!” cried Okama, “there is an answering signal!”
Out of the black fog there shot into the night a bolt of blood-red fire, revealing in its flash a bleak and rugged headland.
“Toshima Island!” he exclaimed, but the lamp is extinguished.
“Impossible!” laughed the captain. “There is the beacon on our port quarter. We are off Izu, in deep water.”
Why then are we slowing down?” asked Okama puzzled.
Suddenly the sputtering of a motor came to his ear, and, through the smother, he saw a launch. A shout rang from the crow’s nest: “Land ahoy! Land ahoy! dead ahead!”
The fog thickened into a solid wall.
The next instant the steamer crashed against a rock.
The water poured through the broken bulk-heads filling the engine room with hissing steam.
Above the shrieks of panic-stricken passengers called the calm voice of the captain:
“Launch the boats!”
“My daughter!” wailed Baron Mon. “She is asleep in her state-room!”
“I will bring her,” cried Okama, leaping into the companion-way.
Half-way down the stairs he met Villanoff bearing a lifeless burden. A scarf steeped in chloroform was bound over the girl’s face.
To his consternation Okama recognized Cherry Blossom.
He followed to the ‘tween decks. In the trough of the sea wallowed a launch.
Lowering the maiden into the arms of a sailor Villanoff was about to leap when Okama grappled with him.
Locked in each others arms they struggled upon the deck of the sinking ship. With a strength born of desperation, little by little Okama overpowered the giant Russian and flung him to the deck.
“Go,” he cried, “take your chances with the rest.”
“Leap!” shouted the pilot, “or you’ll be carried down with the suction!”
Okama sprang from the doomed vessel as the launch rose on the crest of a comber.
A moment later the steamer keeled over and, stern in air, plunged suddenly into the sea.
A muffled roar rose from the maelstrom as the little craft climbed a cataract of seething foam and bounded toward the shore.
How well I recollect the day
Now many years agone,
When as a mousmee, mild and gay,
I left my mother’s home.
How dearly I remember too
The cottage where was born
The boy-babe whom I cherished so,
So swiftly from me torn.
Without a thought of selfishness
I lived but in my boy.
My every dream, his happiness,
My very life, his joy.
And when he grows to man’s estate
Another heart he’ll find
To solace him, what e’er his fate,
With loyal love and kind.
Alas, my dreams were all untrue
For, pitiless and blind,
Death took my dear-ling ere he knew
The love of mother-kind.
Since when in childlessness I wait,
Heedless of grief or joy,
Till Death shall come, compassionate,
And take me to my boy.
(After LAFCADIO HEARN.)
Wan and haggard Lotus scanned the billows, as the sea gave up its dead.
From corpse to corpse she ran gazing eagerly into each white face in futile quest of him she loved.
At last the waves cast a gruesome burden at her feet.
Vainly she laboured over the body of the drowned man, tirelessly chafing the bloodless hands, striving to quicken it to consciousness.
Into unheeding ears she poured her passionate appeal, breathed between stiffened lips her own warm breath, and searched staring eyes in vain for some vague sign of life.
Not until the white-haired priest told her that the erring spirit had found Nirvana, did the bereaved woman relinquish hope.
Beneath a flickering taper lay the shrouded form. Blue wreaths of incense fluttered upward in the gloom.
Lifting the pall, O Hasu San peered with tearless eyes upon the cold, relentless face.
Silently she glided to the tokonoma, and drew forth a samurai sword, the sword of her father, the soul of his ancient faith. A golden dolphin wound about the heavy hilt. Upon the Muramasa blade was graven in dim ideographs a half obliterated verse:
The Soul of the Samurai
Still live the samurai who honour breathe,
Who rather than to shame their ancestry
To live dishonoured and dishonour thee,
In their own hearts their naked swords would sheathe.”
Lifting the sword to her forehead she prostrated herself in piteous appeal.
“Amaterasu no Mikami,” she murmured, “make me not coward in my honourable duty!”
Then, with a sudden thrust, she plunged the blade into her throat.
A slender scarlet thread crimsoned the stainless matting.
The sword fell from her lifeless fingers.
Through the tattered shoji swept a scent of cherry bloom. A white butterfly winged upward on the breath of a sunbeam.
O Hasu San no longer knew, nor pain, nor fear, nor grief. Upon her flower-white face blossomed a smile of child-like innocence. Her lotus-pure soul had fled the mire of earth.
Upon the body of Villanoff was found a packet of papers, incriminating evidence of a double conspiracy: the wrecking of the steamer Nil, to conceal his theft of the Golden Dolphin, and his treacherous plot to gain Masampo.
Okama brought a salvage ship to the island and, after patient fishing, succeeded in raising the Golden Dolphin from its watery tomb to its airy home on the ridge of Nagoya Castle, where it kicks its tail in ceaseless transport to this day.
By dint of shrewd diplomacy he procured for his country the very sites at Masampo which Russia had coveted, making Japan possessor of the Gibraltar of the Orient, the key to Manchuria and Korea!
The Fleeting World
Through lazy lane and bustling mart we go,
Gliding in smooth kuruma down the street,
Drawn by a sun-bronzed coolie, brave and fleet,
As round us whirls the motley passing show,
Bulky, black bullocks, lumbering and slow,
Led by brown, buxom maids so smiling sweet,
Plod heavy hoofs beneath the sultry heat,
Bearing great vats of sake to and fro.
From out dim, dingy shops old tradesmen leer
Like lewd nutsukes laughing in the gloom;
While, in the sunshine, romping, plump, and dear,
Nude babies dance beneath the cherry bloom.
O happy folk! who hold of joy the art,
Ye grown-up children, young and blithe of heart.
It is wistaria-time at Kameido, and Okama and Cherry Blossom, honey-mooning, are gliding in rickshaw to the flowery fête.
The years have brought the realization of their dreams. Okama has been appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs. He has lived to see his countrymen rewarded for their patient efforts by a constitution and national assembly, a “government of the people, for the people, and by the people.”
Once more they stand upon the Rainbow Bridge, long purple tassels of wistaria trailing in the little lake.
Golden carp dart through the darkling shadows, and greedily leap for mochi.
“Fairest of brides art thou,” murmurs Okama, “even as Kameido is Queen of parks!”
“Mos’ greatest male-man-Mikado thou,” smiles Cherry Blossom, “all same Fujiyama Mikado-Mountain” and tossing their rice-cakes to the carp they patter down the archway.
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