Kenneth Slessor (27 March 1901 – 30 June 1971 / Orange, New South Wales)
READING how Marco Polo came
By bridle-path to Kanbalu,
Forgotten fibres wake to flame,
And smoke old memories anew . . . .
For in a bygone life of mine
I watched the carven rampart shine,
Where Kublai's five-clawed dragons glowed
Like painted wyverns, line on line.
And past those plaster dragon-heads,
Those frescoes cut with curious flowers,
In verdigris and lilac-reds
Old tiles gleamed on the crusted towers,
While bridges cleft of serpent-stone
Bowed by their side, like branches blown
From some high granite Tree of Life
Whose roots were coiled round Kublai's throne.
O myrtles on the Jasper Mount,
O forest-towered elephants,
And fire-fish in the topaz fount
With red fins blown like water-plants,
And green cornelian tortoise-rows
Below the aqueduct, and those
Gold-feathered cranes, I saw them all,
How many ages gone, who knows?
I saw tall gilded Tartars pass
Behind their marble balustrades,
With maces made of beaten brass
And turquoise-hafted sabre-blades.
I heard the little golden bells
Blow faintly down the citadels,
And spied those ivory courts within
Through windows of transparent shells.
But past the fountain-pools I peered,
Beyond the birds, to that divan,
Where, fingering his tawny beard,
In silence dreamed the splendid Khan.
Green china bowls of wine were there,
And oranges and milk-of-mare,
While, stamping on his jewelled wrist,
A falcon climbed with eyes aflare.
He's gone; and with him, flowers and birds,
And old Venetians too, have died;
Yet burnt in Marco Polo's words,
Those unforgotten splendours hide . . .
And, tired of life's new-fashioned plan,
I long to be barbarian.
I'm sick of modern men, I wish
You were still living, Kublai-Khan!
Comments about this poem (Marco Polo by Kenneth Slessor )
World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development
celebrated on May 21st every year
Your Favorite Poets’ Favorite Books of Poetry
Daily Rituals of Famous Authors
Writers seem to be the most prone to unshakeable routines and elaborate superstitions.
Incredible Reading Rooms Around the World
Cozy, beautiful places to curl up with a good book...
Top 500 Poems
The Road Not Taken
Still I Rise
If You Forget Me
Edgar Allan Poe
A Dream Within A Dream
Edgar Allan Poe
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings