Song Writer Paid With Air

A poem by Edward Powys Mathers

I sit on a white wood box
Smeared with the black name
Of a seller of white sugar.
The little brown table is so dirty
That if I had food
I do not think I could eat.

How can I promise violets drunken in wine
For your amusement,
How can I powder your blue cotton dress
With splinters of emerald,
How can I sing you songs of the amber pear,
Or pour for the finger-tips of your white fingers
Mingled scents in a rose agate bowl?

From the Chinese of J. Wing (nineteenth century).

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