Scented Leaves From A Chinese Jar

the bitter purple willows

Meditating on the glory of illustrious lineage I lifted up my eyes and beheld the bitter purple willows growing round the tombs of the exalted Mings.

the gold fish

Like a breath from hoarded musk,
Like the golden fins that move
Where the tank's green shadows part—
Living flames out of the dusk—
Are the lightning throbs of love
In the passionate lover's heart.

the intoxicated poet

A poet, having taken the bridle off his tongue, spoke thus: "More fragrant than the heliotrope, which blooms all the year round, better than vermilion letters on tablets of sendal, are thy kisses, thou shy one!"

the jonquils

I have heard that a certain princess, when she found that she had been married by a demon, wove a wreath of jonquils and sent it to the lover of former days.

the mermaid

The sailor boy who leant over the side of the Junk of Many Pearls, and combed the green tresses of the sea with his ivory fingers, believing that he had heard the voice of a mermaid, cast his body down between the waves.

the middle kingdom

The emperors of fourteen dynasties, clad in robes of yellow silk embroidered with the Dragon, wearing gold diadems set with pearls and rubies, and seated on thrones of incomparable ivory, have ruled over the Middle Kingdom for four thousand years.

the milky way

My mother taught me that every night a procession of junks carrying lanterns moves silently across the sky, and the water sprinkled from their paddles falls to the earth in the form of dew. I no longer believe that the stars are junks carrying lanterns, no longer that the dew is shaken from their oars.

the sea–shell

To the passionate lover, whose sighs come back to him on every breeze, all the world is like a murmuring sea-shell.

the swallow tower

Amid a landscape flickering with poplars, and netted by a silver stream, the Swallow Tower stands in the haunts of the sun. The winds out of the four quarters of heaven come to sigh around it, the clouds forsake the zenith to bathe it with continuous kisses. Against its sun–worn walls a sea of orchards breaks in white foam; and from the battlements the birds that flit below are seen like fishes in a green moat. The windows of the Tower stand open day and night; the winged Guests come when they please, and hold communication with the unknown Keeper of the Tower.

Allen Upward