Treasure Island

Francis William Lauderdale Adams

(27 September 1862 – 4 September 1893)

A Glimpse Of China


I
In a Sampan
(Min River, Fo Kien)
Up in the misty morning,
Up past the gardened hills,
With the rhythmic stroke of the rowers,
While the blue deep pales and thrills!
Past the rice-fields green low-lying,
Where the sea-gull's winging down
From the fleets of junks and sampans
And the ancient Chinese Town!
II
In a Chair
(Foo-cbow)
From the bright and blinding sunshine,
From the whirling locust's song,
Into the dark and narrow fissures
Of the streets I am borne along.
Here and there dusky-beaming
A sun-shaft broadens and drops
On the brown bare crowd slow-passing,
The crowd of the open shops.
We move on over the bridges
With their straight-hewn blocks of stone,
And their quaint grey animal figures,
And the booths the hucksters own.
Behind a linen awning
Sits an ancient wight half-dead,
And a little dear of a girl is
Examining — his head.
On a bended bamboo shouldered,
Bearing a block of stone,
Two worn-out Coolies half-naked
Utter their grunting groan.
Children, almond-eyed beauties,
Impossibly mangy curs,
Take part in the motley stream of
Insouciant passengers.
This is the Dream, the Vision
That comes to me and greets —
The Vision of Retribution
In the labyrinthine streets.
III
'Caste'
These Chinese toil, and yet they do not starve,
And they obey, and yet they are not slaves.
It is the 'free-born' fuddled Englishmen
Who grovel rotting in their living graves.
These Chinese do not fawn with servile lips;
They lift up equal eyes that ask and scan.
Their degradation has escaped at least
That choicest curse of all — the Gentleman!
IV
Over the Samovar
(Foo-chow)
'Yes, I used always to think
That you Russians knew
How to make the good drink
As none others do.
'And I thought moreover,
(Not with the epicures),
You might search the world over
For such Women as yours.
'In both these matters now
I perceive I was right,
And I really can't tell you how
Much I delight
'In my third (Thanks, another cup!)
Idea of the fun,
When your Country gets up
And follows the sun!
'And just as in Europe, see,
There's a Conqueror Nation,
So why not in Asia be
A like jubilation?
'Taught as well as organized,
The eternal Coolie,
From being robbed and despised,
Takes to cutting throats duly!
'But — please, don't be flurried;
For I daresay by then
You'll be comfortably buried,
Ladies and gentlemen!
'No more, thanks! I must be going!
I'm so glad to have made this
Opportunity of knowing
Some more Russian ladies!'

Submitted: Tuesday, April 20, 2010

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