Laurence Binyon

Matsushima (1932)

O paradise of waters and of isles that gleam,
Dark pines on scarps that flame white in a mirrored sky,
A hundred isles that change like a dissolving dream
From shape to shape for them that with the wind glide by!
Many celestial palaces, gardens of scented song,
Have hearts of men imagined for lost happiness;
But merely around these isles, the live sea streams among
Salt with a pulsing tide, no languid lake’s caress,
To sail and ever sail, with not a sound to feel
In the clean blue, but silence vivid with delight,
A silence winged with rush of the dividing keel,
As if the world’s sorrow and folly had taken flight,
Suspended pale as that faint circle far-away
Of mountain, and remote as ocean’s murmuring miles,
This, only this, for me were paradise to-day,
O paradise of waters, paradise of isles.






‘Matsushima’ (BC24b) appeared in the Koya San: Four Poems from Japan (BC24).

For an overview of Binyon’s relation with Japan see Laurence Binyon and Japan in the Bibliography, and for notes about Binyon titles in print see Koya San.








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