A Luminous Halo

"Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end." --Virginia Woolf

My Photo
Location: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States

Smith ’69, Purdue ’75. Anarchist; agnostic. Writer. Steward of the Pascal Emory house, an 1871 Second-Empire Victorian; of Sylvie, a 1974 Mercedes-Benz 450SL; and of Taz, a purebred Cockador who sets the standard for her breed. Happy enough for the present in Massachusetts, but always looking East.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Bad Poetry: W. C. Hunter

Just when I thought I was running out of bad poetry, a friend generously supplied this, complete with background:

The following is a poem composed by a western trader at Canton, in the mid-nineteenth century when the English were carving out part of Canton as the Hong Kong colony and demanding that the rest of it hold itself open for opium sales. The trader/poet's name was W.C. Hunter. The only other necessary explanation is that, in Cantonese Chinese, the phrase "Se-Ta-Che" means "western guest."

The feast spread out, the splendour round
Allowed the eye no rest:
The wealth of Kwang-Tung, of all Ind,
Appeared to greet each guest.

All tongues are still; no converse free
The solemn silence broke.
Because, alas! friend Se-Ta-Che
No word of Chinese spoke.

Now here, now there, he picked a bit
Of what he could not name;
And all he knew was that, in fact,
They made him sick the same!

Mingqua, his host, pressed on each dish
With polished Chinese grace;
And much, Ming thought, he relished them,
At every ugly face!

At last he swore he'd eat no more.
'Twas written in his looks:
For, 'Zounds!' said he, 'the devil here
Sends both the meat and cooks!'

But, covers changed, he brightened up,
And thought himself in luck
When close before him what he saw
Looked something like a duck!

Still cautious grown but, to be sure,
His brain he set to rack;
At length he turned to one behind,
And, pointing, cried 'Quack, Quack!'

The Chinese gravely shook his head,
Next made a reverend bow;
And then expressed what dish it was
By uttering 'Bow-wow-wow.'

Labels: , , ,


Anonymous Maggie said...

I read this to my misbehaving dogs and now, due to that last line, they are little models of proper comportment. Thank you for the training aid.

10:29 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home