by: C. Doyle

      The Lady Kuanyin sits, the air
      Is full of spray,
      And there
      It caught and damped her long black hair;
      She smiles as if all day
      There were
      All around
      Strange sea-beasts with tendrils found
      And flashing wings and frightful necks
      With fire-opal stripes and specks,
      Sapphire waves that emerald flecks,
      And a whole enchanted breeze,
      And unknown coasts with distant trees,
      And beaches starry with the twinkle
      Of agates, where the commonest sea-winkle
      Should be made
      Of sea-green jade--
      And exquisite sea-girls
      With curling hair that grows
      Just in the shape of a rose
      Turned upside down, all curls,
      And tiger teeth to tear
      Whatever flesh
      Of man or fish
      Be there--
      And in fantastic trails and sweeps
      Of pink and gold the seaweed creeps
      Up her rock, and there shall gay
      Turquoise-warted starfish play,
      And the sea
      Stranger than worldly ones shall be,
      And rocks with outlines curved like flame
      May all adore and know her name.
      While below
      Who shall know
      What curious horrors wind and go
      Deep beneath the island waves?
      Or who the wretches Lady Kuanyin saves
      From sorrow's drowning, or to whom
      She lets her wavelets creep and come
      To cool despair's hell-flame -- ah stronger far
      Than deities that on altars are!
      All these
      She sits and sees,
      And as well
      The unending swell,
      And quiet indescribable.
      She sits upon my chimney-shelf
      And sitting thinks, and smiles to herself,
      Till all around the atmosphere
      With her thoughts becomes so clear
      That unhappiness could never be
      Where they turn the air to sea.
      And her face is white as spray
      And white her robe as silver bay,
      And there she sits and thinks and smiles--
      As though she saw us also there,
      Standing unaware,
      In all the turquoise air
      Among her isles.

'To the Image of Kuanyin' was published in Galleys Laden: Poems by Four Writers. Oxford: B.H. Blackwell, 1918.


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