Profiles from China

Eunice Tietjens
륜The Project Gutenberg eBook, Profiles from China, by Eunice Tietjens
This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at
Title: Profiles from China
Author: Eunice Tietjens
Release Date: August 5, 2004 [eBook #13118]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1
E-text prepared by Melissa Er-Raqabi and the Project Gutenberg Online Distributed Proofreading Team
Sketches in Free Verse of People and Things Seen in the Interior
To My Mother
PROEM?The Hand
FROM THE INTERIOR?Cormorants?A Scholar?The Story Teller?The Well?The Abandoned God?The Bridge?The Shop?My Servant?The Feast?The Beggar?Interlude?The City Wall?Woman?Our Chinese Acquaintance?The Spirit Wall?The Most-Sacred Mountain?The Dandy?New China: The Iron Works?Spring?Meditation?Chinese New Year
ECHOES?Crepuscule?Festival of the Dragon Boats?Kang Yi?Poetics?A Lament of Scarlet Cloud?The Son of Heaven?The Dream?Fêng-Shui
CHINA OF THE TOURISTS?Reflections in a Ricksha?The Camels?The Connoisseur: An American?Sunday in the British Empire: Hong Kong?On the Canton River Boat?The Altar of Heaven?The Chair Ride?The Sikh Policeman: a British Subject?The Lady of Easy Virtue: an American?In the Mixed Court: Shanghai
The Hand
As you sit so, in the firelight, your hand is the color of
new bronze.?I cannot take my eyes from your hand;?In it, as in a microcosm, the vast and shadowy Orient
is made visible.?Who shall read me your hand?
You are a large man, yet it is small and narrow, like the
hand of a woman and the paw of a chimpanzee.?It is supple and boneless as the hands wrought in pigment
by a fashionable portrait painter. The tapering?fingers bend backward.?Between them burns a scented cigarette. You poise it
with infinite daintiness, like a woman under the?eyes of her lover. The long line of your curved?nail is fastidiousness made flesh.
Very skilful is your hand.?With a tiny brush it can feather lines of ineffable suggestion,
glints of hidden beauty. With a little?tool it can carve strange dreams in ivory and?milky jade.
And cruel is your hand.?With the same cold daintiness and skill it can devise
exquisite tortures, eternities of incredible pain,?that Torquemada never glimpsed.?And voluptuous is your hand, nice in its sense of touch.?Delicately it can caress a quivering skin, softly it can
glide over golden thighs.... Bilitis had not?such long nails.
Who can read me your hand??In the firelight the smoke curls up fantastically from
the cigarette between your fingers which are the?color of new bronze.?The room is full of strange shadows.?I am afraid of your hand....
The boats of your masters are black;?They are filthy with the slimy filth of ages; like the
canals on which they float they give forth an evil?smell.?On soiled perches you sit, swung out on either side over
the scummy water--you who should be savage?and untamed, who should ride on the clean breath?of the sea and beat your pinions in the strong?storms of the sea.?Yet you are not held.?Tamely you sit and willingly, ten wretches to a boat,
lurching and half asleep.
Around each throat is a ring of straw, a small ring, so
that you may swallow only small things, such as?your masters desire.?Presently, when you reach the lake, you will dive.?At the word of your masters the parted waters will
close over you and in your ears will be the gurgling?of yellow streams.?Hungrily you will search in the darkened void, swiftly
you will pounce on the silver shadow....?Then you will rise again, bearing in your beak the
struggling prey,?And your lousy lords, whose rings are upon your
throats, will take from you the catch, giving in its?place a puny wriggler which can pass the gates of?straw.?Such is your servitude.
Yet willingly you sit, lurching and half asleep.?The boatmen shout one to another in nasal discords.
Lazily you preen your great wings, eagle wings,?built for the sky;?And you yawn....
Faugh! The sight of you sickens me, divers in inland
filth!?You grow lousy like your lords,?For you have forgotten the sea.
A Scholar
You sit, chanting the maxims of Confucius.?On your head is a domed cap of black satin and your
supple hands with their long nails are piously?folded.?You rock to and fro rhythmically.?Your voice, rising and falling in clear nasal monosyllables,
flows on steadily, monotonously, like the?flowing of water and the flowering of thought.?You are chanting, it seems, of the pious conduct of man
in all ages,?And I know you for a scoundrel.
None the less the maxims of Confucius are venerable,
and your voice pleasant.?I listen attentively....
The Story Teller
In a corner of the market-place he sits, his face the target
for many eyes.?The sombre crowd about him is motionless. Behind
their faces no lamp burns; only their eyes glow?faintly with a reflected light.?For their eyes are on his face.?It alone is alive, is vibrant, moving bronze under a sun
of bronze.?The taut skin, like polished metal, shines along his
cheek and jaw. His eyes cut upward from a slender?nose, and his quick mouth moves sharply out?and in.
Artful are the gestures of his mouth, elaborate and
full of guile. When he draws back
Continue reading on your phone by scaning this QR Code

 / 11
Tip: The current page has been bookmarked automatically. If you wish to continue reading later, just open the Dertz Homepage, and click on the 'continue reading' link at the bottom of the page.