Edmund Blunden

Osaka in Reconstruction (1948)

Men pass; and cities pass; and yet the years
Allow no less than life and lively hope.
Afresh appears
Immediate beauty, skill, desire and scope.

Some cities I have known both great and old
In my own days
Have undergone such change as, to be told,
Would call for copious volumes, curious phrase.

Old Osaka, among these you are one,
And where is he who now could write of you
Like Captain John
Saris of England? Let him live anew.

Well he described the Castle, sketched the town,
And thought of London to compare it by;
Since then we have flown
Three centuries and more; and cities die.

And Osaka has more than most sustained
More death than common lot admits; What then?
Here has remained
A city’s pride in every citizen:

Whence, if John Saris comes again to tell
With ghostly honesty the city’s state,
“Osaka’s well,”
He’ll write; “Osaka was, and must be, great.



Blunden’s note:

John Saris, merchant and sea-captain, saw Osaka in 1613.


‘Osaka in Reconstruction’ appeared in Two Lectures on English Literature (BD55). For notes about 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.















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