Chinoiserie

After Théophile Gautier

Original Text: 
A. J. M. Smith, The Complete Poems, ed. Brian Trehearne (London, Ontario: Canadian Poetry Press, 2007): 30.
3Ophelia, nor Beatrice, nor that dove,
4Fair-haired Laura with the big eyes; No.
5She is in China whom I love just now;
6She lives at home and cares for her old parents;
7From a tower of porcelain she leans her brow,
8By the Yellow River, where haunt the cormorants.
9She has upward-slanting eyes, a foot to hold
10In your hand .- that small; the colour shed
11By lamps is less clear than her coppery gold;
12And her long nails are stained with carmine red.
13From her trellis she leans out so far
14That the dipping swallows are within her reach,
15And like a poet, to the evening star
16She sings the willow and the flowering peach.

Notes

1] Théophile Gautier: French poet (1811-72). His poem, translated here, is as follows:
Ce n'est pas vous, non, madame, que j'aime,
Ni vous non plus, Juliette, ni vous,
Ophélia, ni Béatrix, ni même
Laure la blonde, avec ses grands yeux doux.

Celle que j'aime, à présent, est en Chine;
Elle demeure, avec ses vieux parents,
Dans une tour de porcelaine fine,
Au fleuve jaune, où sont les cormorans;

Elle a des yeux retroussés vers les tempes,
Un pied petit, à tenir dans la main,
Le teint plus clair que le cuivre des lampes,
Les ongles longs et rougis de carmin;

Par son treillis elle passe sa tête,
Que l'hirondelle, en volant, vient toucher,
Et, chaque soir, aussi bien qu'un poète,
Chante le saule et la fleur du pêcher.
The title refers to something of Chinese culture.

Back to Line
2] Smith cites the Juliet of Shakespeare's Romeo, the Ophelia of his Hamlet, the Beatrice of Dante's Vita Nuova, and Petrarch's Laura. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
1925
Publication Notes: 
The McGill Daily Literary Supplement
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire / Sharine Leung
RPO Edition: 
2011
Rhyme: 
Form: 
Special Copyright: 

Copyright © the estate of A.J.M. Smith. Included
with the generous permission of William Toye, his literary executor.