Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895
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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895.  1895.
 
The Musmee
 
Sir Edwin Arnold (1832–1904)
 
 
THE MUSMEE has brown velvet eyes
  Curtain’d with satin, sleepily;
You wonder if those lids would rise
  The newest, strangest sight to see;
But when she chatters, laughs, or plays        5
  Kôto, biwa, or samisen,
No jewel gleams with brighter rays
  Than flash from those dark lashes then.
 
The Musmee has a small brown face,
  “Musk-melon seed” its perfect shape:        10
Jetty arch’d eyebrows; nose to grace
  The rosy mouth beneath; a nape,
And neck, and chin, and smooth, soft cheeks
  Carv’d out of sunburn’d ivory,
With teeth, which, when she smiles or speaks,        15
  Pearl merchants might come leagues to see!
 
The Musmee’s hair could teach the night
  How to grow dark, the raven’s wing
How to seem ebon! Grand the sight
  When, in rich masses, towering,        20
She builds each high black-marble coil,
  And binds the gold and scarlet in;
And thrusts, triumphant, through the toil
  The Kanzâshi, her jewell’d pin.
 
The Musmee has wee, faultless feet,        25
  With snow-white tabi trimly deck’d,
Which patter down the city street
  In short steps, slow and circumspect;
A velvet string between her toes
  Holds to its place th’ unwilling shoe:        30
Pretty and pigeonlike she goes,
  And on her head a hood of blue.
 
The Musmee wears a wondrous dress—
  Kimono, obi, imoji
A rosebush in Spring loveliness        35
  Is not more color-glad to see!
Her girdle holds her silver pipe,
  And heavy swing her long silk sleeves
With cakes, love-letters, mikan ripe,
  Small change, musk-bag, and writing-leaves.        40
 
The Musmee’s heart is slow to grief,
  And quick to pleasure, dance, and song;
The Musmee’s pocket-handkerchief
  A square of paper! All day long
Gentle, and sweet, and debonair        45
  Is, rich or poor, this Asian lass:
Heaven have her in its tender care,
  O medetó gozarimas! 1
 
Note 1. Japanese for “May it be well with thee!” [back]
 

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