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Messer Marco Polo
Brian Oswald Donn-Byrne
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And now when Marco Polo was rested and had recovered, they brought him from
the Convent of the Red Monks to where the khan was in the city of Chandu.
Now, there were two palaces in Chandu; there was the winter palace, which was
of marble, and the summer palace, which was of gilt cane. Around these palaces
there was built a wall sixteen miles in compass, and inside of it was a park of
fountains, and rivers and brooks with the speckled trout in them, and meadows
with the lark at her ease in the grass, and trees of all varieties where the little
birds do be building and none to grudge them a home. And all the wild animals
were abundant, the timid hare and the wild deer and the wee croaking frogs,
long-legged colts by their white mothers, and little dogs tumbling over themselves
with the sport of spring. Brown bees among the clover, strawberries in profusion,
trees would delight your eyes, and brown cows and black cows, and dappled
moilies under the great leaves of them, and lambs would be snowy of fleece. All
the flowers of the world were there; the paradise of wild things it was, the park of
"In Xanadu did Kubla Khan," quoted young Randall,
"A stately pleasure dome decree,
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man,
Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round:
And there were gardens, bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery."
"Whose poem is that poem, Brian 0ge?"
"It is a poem of Coleridge's, Malachi."
"I though it was maybe a poem of Colquitto Dall McCracken of Skye, that one of
you lads had put English on. It is a poem of the head, you ken, and Colquitto,
being a dark man, could only see with the eye's ghost. But it hasn't the warmth,
the life of the work of Blind Colquitto, Brian Oge, do you mind the poem Angus
More Campbell of Rathlin wrote to Colquitto Dall?"
"'Is aoibhinn duid, Colquitto Dall,'" I remembered: "It is happy for thee, blind
Colquitto, who dost not see much of women. If thou wert to see what we see,
thou wouldst be tormented even as I am. My sorrow, O God, that I was not
stricken blind before I saw her amber, twisted hair!"