Edmund Blunden

The Daimyo’s Pond (1924)

The swallows come on swift and daring wings,
Their daring wings to dip with pure delight
In the mild pond: once more the kind fate brings
My heart that moment, and the world is bright.
The lilies there, the white ones and the red,
From the green cloudy deeps look up to heaven,
And antique holm-oaks sheltering their calm bed
Seem blessing Earth that has such duty given.

Look, how that old man, face like parchment tanned,
Wrinkled, mouth-shrivelled, silently is come
To the high bank, a bucket in his hand—
He beats upon it as it were a drum:
He beats a solemn summoning monotone,
And through the secrecies that under shroud,
The water-shapes steal towards his gonging drone,
The lonelinesses gather in a crowd.

Moon-pallid some gliding through the green,
Great fishes, yet for phantoms passing well;
Others like opals rosy-rayed convene,
Jewels of June waters, to that simple bell;
Dark as barbaric dreams, there others swim,
And now to that old labourer’s wish a host
Of splendours circle mingling, to the brim
Fanning and fawning, flame and dream and ghost.

Would that I might by means as plain as this
Bring many a mystery from life’s shadowy pool,
Enchant the live gems from the unknown abyss,
And make them seen, the strangely beautiful.
What measured syllables must I resound,
Oh what most simple and most secret spell
For hidden fancies waits there to be found?
Who knows what incantations, and will tell?




For an overview of Blunden’s relation with Japan see Edmund Blunden and Japan in the Bibliography, and for a note about Blunden titles in print see A ‘First Impression’: Tokyo. ‘The Daimyo’s Pond’ (BD1b) appeared in London Mercury 10 (October 1924) and was reprinted with slight emendations in Japanese Garland (BD18) and several other collections.




















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