Wednesday, October 5, 2016

DÄI NIPPON, a poem

APART from all,
     "Child of the World's old age,"
Heedful of naught beyond the billowy wall
     That closely girt her island hermitage,
She pondered still with half-averted look,
The early lessons of the great World-book,
     Nor cared to turn the page;

For a strange dread
     Possessed her. To invoke
Aid of her gods she tried,—scarce comforted
     That countless barrier-waves about her broke;
But when with bold command, in Yeddo Bay
A squadron anchored—oh, prodigious day!—
     The Orient awoke!

Though one long blind,
     At first in fruitless quest
Must grope her course, yet, with enlarging mind,
     She quickly clearer saw; and from her breast
Sent forth brave sons—of her new hunger taught—
     Who, one by one returning, to her brought
The Wisdom of the West.

Then earth beheld,
     With awe and wonderment,
Goliath by this stripling nation felled,
     Which—rising by no tedious ascent—
Swift as the upward flight of wind-swept flame,
Leapt from obscurity to dazzling fame,—
     Star of the Orient!

And yet she won
     Sublimer victories,
Who, high enlightened all excess to shun,
     Did not exact remorseless penalties,
Nor force a brave and fallen foe to drain
Humiliation's brimming cup of pain
     Down to the poisoned lees.

In lieu of things
     Ephemeral—less worth,
She full revealed the sweep of her strong wings,
     And gained the suffrage of the grateful earth;
Choosing, as war should from her realms depart,
To give herself to the enduring Art
     That was her own at birth.

Ah, great Japan,—
     Who, staying griefs appalling,
Approved thyself magnanimous to man,—
     The World, that long had felt thy charm enthralling,
Has laid full many laurels on thy brow;
But with a new, diviner accent now
     She hears the East a-calling! 
"Däi Nippon" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Independent (5 October 1905), Lyrics of Life (1909) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

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