Opinions of the New Student

Until yesterday I was polite and peaceful . . .

Last year I drank the yellow-leaved Yunnan tea
in fine cups of porcelain,
and deciphered the sacred texts of Lao-Tze,
of Mang-tze,
and the wisest of the wise, Kung-fu-Tseu.

Deep in the shade of the pagodas
my life ran on, harmonious and serene,
white as the lilies in the pools,
gentle as a poem by Li Tai Po,
watching the loop-the-loop
of white storks at eve
against the screen of an alabaster sky.

But I have been awakened by the echo of foreign voices
booming from the mouths of mechanical instruments:
dragons setting ablaze with howls of grapeshot —
to the horror of my brothers
murdered in the night —
my bamboo houses
and my ancient pagodas.

And now, from the airplane of my new conscience,
I watch over the green plains of Europe,
and her magnificent cities
blossoming in stone and iron.

Before my eyes the western world is naked.
With the long pipe of the centuries
in my pale hands,
I am no longer enticed by the opium of barbarism.
Today I march toward the progress of the people,
training my fingers on the trigger of a Mauser.

Over the flame of today
impatiently I cook the drug of tomorrow.
I would breathe deep of the new era
in my great pipe of jade.
A strange restlessness
has taken all sleep from my slanting eyes.
To gain a deeper view of the horizon
I leap up on the old wall of the past . . .

Until yesterday I was polite and peaceful . . .
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