Verse > Anthologies > Harriet Monroe, ed. > Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, 1912–22
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Harriet Monroe, ed. (1860–1936).  Poetry: A Magazine of Verse.  1912–22.
 
Four Japanese Paintings
By Arthur Davison Ficke
 
I  THE PINE BRANCH

A Painting by Kenzan

  A PINE-BRANCH stretches out
Across the silence …
 
  … Grey silence, untroubled
Until this living thing
Smote it into music….        5
 
  The void is restless now.
Silence shall be no more.
Greyness shall be no more,
Nor any peace.
For a singing curve and color        10
Have entered the vast dwelling—
A life, singing
Of the suns and the snows.
Now the old gods tremble
In their timeless halls;        15
Now the far halls beyond Orion
Are shaken with music.
For this chord, living,
This soul that knows not peace—
This dream-dust—stretches out        20
Across the silence.
 
II  PINES ON A MOUNTAIN

A Screen by Yeitoku

  Red pine-trunks!
Immutable pines!
Pillars upright under the grey sky!
Pillars upright over the chasmed earth!—        25
Upon these snow-heights
Your downward sloping branches
Point toward the human world
Remote and troubled.
But here on the ultimate ramparts        30
Of the winter hills,
Your huge columns
Rise toward bleak heaven—
Like an indomitable procession
Of warriors, dark, green-crested,        35
To whom the snows
Are only wine and trumpets,
To whom the winds
Are only battle.
 
III  THE WAVE SYMPHONY

A Screen by Sotatsu

  Around islands of jade and malachite
        40
And lapis-lazuli and jasper,
Under golden clouds,
Struggle the grey-gold waves.
 
  The waves are advancing,
Swirling, eddying; the pale waves        45
Are leaping into foam, and retreating—
And straining again until they seem not waves
But gigantic crawling hands.
The waves clutch at the clouds,
The near and golden clouds;        50
They rise in spires over the clouds,
And over the pine-branch set against the clouds.
And around the islands,
Jasper and jade,
Their rhythms circle and sweep and re-echo        55
With hollow and foam-crest,
Infinitely interlacing their orbits and cycles
That join and unravel, and battle and answer,
From tumult to tumult, from music to music,
Crest to trough, foam-height to hollow,        60
Peace drowning passion, and passion
Leaping from peace.
 
IV  BUDDHA APPEARING FROM BEHIND MOUNTAINS

A Painting by Choga

  Two hills meet—
Two dark green hills.
About their shoulders        65
Silver mists cling.
 
  Slowly the gigantic
Face of the Buddha
In massive presence
Looks over the hills.        70
Tranquil his brow, unsmiling his lips;
Filling the whole sky with his haloes of glory,
He broods in a dream of gold.
Measureless peace sleeps on his golden forehead;
Measureless compassion        75
Weighs on his eyes.
Yet as I look
It seems that his terrible hidden hands
Even now are stirring
To rend apart the hills—        80
To divide the corrupt and cloven earth
For the triumphal entry of his burning form.
 
 
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