BD. Edmund Blunden

26. The Visitor. New Statesman OS 33 (July 1929): 470.

  Reprinted in Near and Far.  

Describes feelings upon arriving in Japan from England. The speaker, conscious of being ‘suddenly the other side of this world wide’, is comforted that the natural landscape of Japan reminds of England. Includes pastoral passages about Japan that indeed could have been written about England, but also an unconscious revelation that things were perhaps more different than the poem allows. When the speaker ‘paused along the yellow plains, / And kissed the child that ran from shyer friends / To take our hand’, the Japanese would have been shocked, but the speaker is blissfully unaware that in Japan one does not ordinarily kiss babies or anything else in public, and he proceeds to note, immediately following, that ‘we could tell what passed / In unknown language between old pouchy boatmen’, a claim that should be viewed with suspicion. Closing lines offer slight indication that the speaker realises in retrospect that Japan and England may be not as alike as he first believed: ‘no distance, / Sea, landslide, chasm, nor crossway of our life / Divided us that moment from the unknown / Pilgrimage singing in the stranger’s mind’. Reprinted in 27, 30 and 125.





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