Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, A JAPANESE EVENING, by EDMUND CHARLES BLUNDEN

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A JAPANESE EVENING, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Round us the pines are darkness
Last Line: At the end of the entertainment.
Alternate Author Name(s): Blunden, Edmund
Subject(s): Japan; Japanese

ROUND us the pines are darkness
That with a wild melodious piping rings
While in the ditches
Slow as toads in English gardens
The little landcrabs move.
We re-discover our path,
And, coming to the cottage, are greeted
With hierophantic usherings and oracles,
And a grin behind the screen, I imagine.
We guess full fathom five, and take up the chopsticks.
The metal-blue cucumber slices,
Rice, string beans,
And green tea over,
The housekeeper looking kindly amazement
At the master of the house
Soon makes all shipshape.
After all, they possess an American clock,
A very fine, a high-collar clock.
She sits on the mat, awaiting the next oddity.

Lanterns moon the outer darkness,
And merrily in come floating
(So gently they foot the honourable straw)
Three young girls, who sit them down.
A conference;
Almost the Versailles of the Far East:
The master, beaming,
His white hair in the lamplight seeming brighter with his pleasure,
Asks me what I call O tsuki sama.
He has got it; right first time,
But not the next.

(The housekeeper cannot suppress her giggles,
Okashii, she says, and so it is.)
We now pass naturally to the
Electric Light.
But he will not have that,
There are no things like that in heaven and earth
In his philology.
I repeat -- what I said;
He repeats -- what he said.
We close at Erecturiku Rightu.
We fasten also on:
The cat, who becomes catsu,
The dog, who proceeds doggi,
(And I suspect has rabies beginning);
Himself, O-Ji-San, Orudu Genturuman,
And all sorts of enigmas.

The girls are quicker, more nimble-throated,
And will reproduce exactly the word, but he lays the law down;
Having re-orientated Fan,
Which they pronounced Fan,
Into Weino,
He instructs them how it ought to be pronounced,
Obediently young Japan reiterates his decision,
Not without an ocular hint to the stranger
That they have concealed the other rendering in their minds ..
I hear their voices tinkling, lessening
Over the firefly grass,
Along the seething sand below the pines,
At the end of the entertainment.

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