Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Asia: Vols. XXI–XXIII. 1876–79.

Chinese Empire: King-te-tching

China Ware

By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882)

(From Kéramos)

O’ER desert sands, o’er gulf and bay,

O’er Ganges and o’er Himalay,

Bird-like I fly, and flying sing,

To flowery kingdoms of Cathay,

And bird-like poise on balanced wing

Above the town of King-te-tching,

A burning town, or seeming so,—

Three thousand furnaces that glow

Incessantly, and fill the air

With smoke uprising, gyre on gyre,

And painted by the lurid glare,

Of jets and flashes of red fire.

As leaves that in the autumn fall,

Spotted and veined with various hues,

Are swept along the avenues,

And lie in heaps by hedge and wall

So from this grove of chimneys whirled

To all the markets of the world,

These porcelain leaves are wafted on,—

Light yellow leaves with spots and stains

Of violet and of crimson dye,

Or tender azure of a sky

Just washed by gentle April rains,

And beautiful with celadon.

Nor less the coarser household wares,—

The willow pattern, that we knew

In childhood, with its bridge of blue

Leading to unknown thoroughfares;

The solitary man who stares

At the white river flowing through

Its arches, the fantastic trees

And wild perspective of the view;

And intermingled among these

The tiles that in our nurseries

Filled us with wonder and delight,

Or haunted us in dreams at night.