O paradise of waters and of isles that gleam,
Dark pines on scarps that flame white in a mirrored sky,
A hundred isles that change like a dissolving dream
From shape to shape for them that with the wind glide by!
Many celestial palaces, gardens of scented song,
Have hearts of men imagined for lost happiness;
But merely around these isles, the live sea streams among
Salt with a pulsing tide, no languid lake’s caress,
To sail and ever sail, with not a sound to feel
In the clean blue, but silence vivid with delight,
A silence winged with rush of the dividing keel,
As if the world’s sorrow and folly had taken flight,
Suspended pale as that faint circle far-away
Of mountain, and remote as ocean’s murmuring miles,
This, only this, for me were paradise to-day,
O paradise of waters, paradise of isles.
appeared in the Koya San: Four Poems from Japan (BC24).
For an overview of Binyon’s relation with Japan
see Laurence Binyon and Japan
in the Bibliography, and for notes about Binyon titles in print