J. Caldwell Johnston

The Praises of Fuji (1925)

A woman has faults in her beauty;
The fairest garden, seen closely, disappoints;
The sunny day
Has often a stormy ending.
But climb the steep rock-ridge,
Despite the stumbling stones and the darkness:
With the first pink of the dawn
You will worship the snow-tipped, sky-pointing, incomparable Fuji!

I have worshipped at an hundred Buddhist shrines,
I have washed among the lotus in the sacred waters of Biwa,
I have loved and been loved by the loveliest in the land;
But these things are as dust, are as dust, beside the loveliness of thee, O Fuji!

O ye craftsmen, cast away your jewelled and enamelled pieces;
O ye poets, destroy the most wonderful of your songs;
O ye limners, how dull are your colours, how fumbling your outlines,
Compared with the vision before me here of Fuji!

I know not if in reality the Gods exist.
They say so! They say so! I know not if the Soul exist.
I know not if Heaven exist. Nay, more! I care not.
I know that thou art, that thou art, O divine and immortal Fuji!

At dawn thou art lovely, O Fuji-san, at noon and at sunset;
And lovely art thou when the Moon-King robes thee in silver;
But loveliest of all,
Each time, each time, O Fuji, that I behold thee!

John Caldwell Johnston was the author of The Book of the Beloved: A Modern Epic in Three Parts (London: Lund; New York: Dutton, 1923), Cantabile: Songs and Poems (Dutton, 1927), and various poems that appeared in Hollywood-based Theosophist in the 1930s. ‘The Praises of Fuji’ appeared in Asiatic Review n.s. 21 (1925), p. 607.

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