Panorama of a Happy Evening


When the frogs clear their throats
Like old club members,
And the fireflies
Punctuate the dusk with a network of brightness,
Hasten, boy, to His Excellency Mu Kow,
And ask him to join me
In a trifling merriment.
And be careful
To stretch two white ropes
Along the path,
Lest, when His Excellency totters homeward in the darkness,
He fall in the canal.


Welcome, Excellency, welcome!
You do me too much honour!
Lay aside your robe and we will sit in the pagoda.
Throw your lip over these pickled sharks' fins.
I pray you, be at your ease:
Let this evening be conducted on a high philosophical plane.
The great Confucius, as you were saying, put it neatly:
Prohibition cannot harm me,
I have wined to-day.


Yes, Excellency, you have said it:
We live but once.
Boy! Some more of those curried snails!
How warm this moonlight is.
By all means, Excellency, take off your shirt
If you will be more comfortable.


Admirable, admirable!
To speak sooth, Excellency, I had no idea
That you could do the Shan-Tung saraband with such spirit.
But — you will pardon me for mentioning it —
Let me clear away the broken glassware
Before you dance barefoot on the table.
The Emperor would never forgive me
If you should would yourself —
Yes, I can see you perfectly from here.
It is very comfortable here, under the table.


Boy, boy! Make haste!
I begged His Excellency to tread with care.
Woe is me! His Excellency insisted on catching a cool, slippery eel
To lay against his heated forehead.
Hasten, boy, hasten!
His Excellency
Has fallen into the canal.
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