Sacred Texts  Confucianism  Index  Previous  Next 
Buy this Book on Kindle

A Feast of Lanterns, by L. Cranmer-Byng, [1916], at


Tsen-tsan and his brother delighted to dream in
   grand horizons,
They drew me down to the water's edge, their
   fellow wanderer.
Veiled was the sky and sombre the land, and
   sudden the change from daylight,
The wind rose and the storm-waves seemed to be
   rolling pale gems in the foam.

Our boat shot forth from its moorings and rippled
   into the movement,
Great was the scene, inspiring to song, but the
   dominant note was fear.

p. 58

How should I not be stirred with danger surging
   around me?
Treacherous wind and crested wave, is there no
   escaping you?

Lo now the captain unfurls the silken sail to the
And the boatmen begin to rejoice as the last cloud
   flags away.
The wild-fowl rise with a roaring of wings, scared
   by the chant of oarsmen;
Lute and flute are astir; faint harmonies drip
   from the sky.

Bright are the water-lily's leaves as though the
   rains had burnished them.
The slack line slips through my hands that would
   fathom the soundless lake.
My gaze falls on the vast expanse of the limitless
   void before me,
Rearward menacing, dark, Chong-Nan towers out
   of sight.

Southward the mountains brood above the restless
Their grim reflections, trembling, sink in deeps of
   darkening blue.
The sun sets, the boat glides by the
   cloud-pavilioned pagoda,
And soon the moon is mirrored in the dun dusk of
   the lake.

p. 59

’Tis then the black dragon, breathing pearls, looms
   out of the darkness.
’Tis then the river-god beats the drum, and the
   shoaling monsters rise.
The naiads leave their dim retreats, faintly their
   revels find us,
And the pale streamers of their quickened lutes
   gleam for an instant far away.

Next: Ch‘ang-Ch‘ien