Mandarins

I

Stands there, complete,
Stiffly addressed with sword and fan:
What of the crowds that ran,
Pushed, stared, and huddled, at his feet,
Keen to appropriate the man?

Indifferent to all these baits
Of popular benignity
He merely stands and waits
Upon his own intrepid dignity;
With fixed regardless eyes —
Looking neither out nor in —
The centre of formalities.

A hero! and how much it means;
How much —
The rest is merely shifting scenes.

Two ladies of uncertain age
Sit by a window drinking tea
(No persiflage!)
With assured tranquillity
Regard
A distant prospect of the sea
The outlines delicate and hard
Of gowns that fall from neck and knee;
Grey and yellow patterns move
From the shoulder to the floor.

By attitude
It would seem that they approve
The abstract sunset (rich, not crude).

And while one lifts her hand to pour
You have the other raise
A thin translucent porcelain,
Murmurs a word of praise.

The eldest of the mandarins,
A stoic in obese repose,
With intellectual double chins,
Regards the corner of his nose;

The cranes that fly across a screen
Pert, alert,
Observe him with a frivolous mien —
Indifferent idealist,
World in fist,
Screen and cranes.

And what of all that one has missed!
And how life goes on different planes!
Still one more thought for pen and ink!
(Though not indicative of spleen):
How very few there are, I think
Who see their outlines on the screen.
And so, I say, I find it good
(Even if misunderstood)
That demoiselles and gentlemen
Walk out beneath the cherry trees,
The goldwire dragons on their gowns
Expanded by the breeze.
The conversation dignified
Nor intellectual nor mean,
And graceful, not too gay ...

And so I say
How life goes well in pink and green!
Rate this poem: 

Reviews

No reviews yet.