Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, A CHINESE PRINCE, by NATHALIA CRANE



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A CHINESE PRINCE, by            
First Line: Of all the shops I fancy there's a chinese one I know
Last Line: He'd best beware of dragons with a slipper on each toe.


Of all the shops I fancy there's a Chinese one I know
That sells the broidered slipper with the dragon on the toe.

And I was never dreaming of a prince when I strayed in,
But there he was upon a rug, his name was Tantu Min.

His mother had him gerbed in silk, the rice was on the floor.
He rose, and Buddha never did a thing like that before.

He rose -- that baby pagan, just beyond the belly band,
And balanced on a tipsy heel to show a god can stand.

He waved an oriental fan for me to go his way;
He handed me a box of tea and sweetly said: "No pay."

Oh, Tantu Min is very rich, a porcelain bank he owns,
The priceless colored lanterns and the idols made of bones,

A censer ribboning a cloud, pagodas and the like,
The strings of golden gongs that chime when anyone doth strike,

The junks refitting on the screens while teapot cargos grow --
Those little broidered slippers with the dragon on the toe.

If Tantu Min but gets the chance to reach to top shelf height,
I know he'll turn unto that road where Buddha swung the light.

But Tantu Min when he goes forth to seek the perfect way,
He must not give to every maid some tea and say: "No pay."

For if he does, Alas! Alack! Oh, misery and woe!
He'd best beware of dragons with a slipper on each toe.





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