Andrew Lang

Ballades III - Of Blue China

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THERE’S a joy without canker or cark,
There ’s a pleasure eternally new,
’T is to gloat on the glaze and the mark
Of china that ’s ancient and blue;
Unchipp’d, all the centuries through
It has pass’d, since the chime of it rang,
And they fashion’d it, figure and hue,
In the reign of the Emperor Hwang.
These dragons (their tails, you remark,
Into bunches of gillyflowers grew),—
When Noah came out of the ark,
Did these lie in wait for his crew?
They snorted, they snapp’d, and they slew,
They were mighty of fin and of fang,
And their portraits Celestials drew
In the reign of the Emperor Hwang.

Here ’s a pot with a cot in a park,
In a park where the peach-blossoms blew,
Where the lovers eloped in the dark,
Lived, died, and were changed into two
Bright birds that eternally flew
Through the boughs of the may, as they sang;
’T is a tale was undoubtedly true
In the reign of the Emperor Hwang.


Come, snarl at my ecstasies, do,
Kind critic; your “tongue has a tang,”
But—a sage never heeded a shrew
In the reign of the Emperor Hwang.

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Andrew Lang