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Poem by William Ernest Henley

Ballade of the Toyokuni Colour-Print

       To W. A.

Was I a Samurai renowned,
Two-sworded, fierce, immense of bow?
A histrion angular and profound?
A priest? a porter?Child, although
I have forgotten clean, I know
That in the shade of Fujisan,
What time the cherry-orchards blow,
I loved you once in old Japan.

As here you loiter, flowing-gowned
And hugely sashed, with pins a-row
Your quaint head as with flamelets crowned,
Demure, invitingeven so,
When merry maids in Miyako
To feel the sweet o the year began,
And green gardens to overflow,
I loved you once in old Japan.

Clear shine the hills; the rice-fields round
Two cranes are circling; sleepy and slow,
A blue canal the lakes blue bound
Breaks at the bamboo bridge; and lo!
Touched with the sundowns spirit and glow,
I see you turn, with flirted fan,
Against the plum-trees bloomy snow . . .
I loved you once in old Japan!


Dear, twas a dozen lives ago;
But that I was a lucky man
The Toyokuni here will show:
I loved youoncein old Japan.

William Ernest Henley

William Ernest Henley's other poems:
  1. In Hospital. 22. Pastoral
  2. Attadale, West Highlands
  3. Beside the Idle Summer Sea
  4. Echoes. 28. Blithe Dreams Arise to Greet Us
  5. Echoes. 27. She Sauntered by the Swinging Seas

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