BD. Edmund Blunden

12. Oriental Ornamentations. Japan Advertiser, 14 November 1926, p. 6.

    Reprinted in Japanese Garland and, under the title ‘Ornamentations’, in Near and Far.  

Following as it does upon poems in which the speaker is content in Japan (see 1a-b and 3), one cannot help noticing that the contentment was not complete. Here he feels ‘locked in’ and cannot ‘escape’ from the very un-English carvings, sculptings, and paintings of Tokyo, the ‘curving cranes with serpent necks’, ‘red-eyed war gods’, ‘demi-lions’ and other ‘ornamentations’ of the title. In closing lines, however, he is once again comforted by the pastoral similarity between Japan and the England he remembers: ‘Claw-tendrils reach, man-monsters glare; / The victim heart prepares to know / Art’s terror, dragon genius—till / Thought spies one rose or daffodil’. Okada’s suggestion (in 191) that the poem is a source for Yeats’s Byzantium (BL32a) is not supported convincingly. For a different reaction by Blunden to similar carvings, in prose of about the same period, see 13. Reprinted in 18, and in 27 and 30 under the title Ornamentations.





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