Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/12

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

So he has given us these in his writings on Japan so vividly and artistically that we can almost hear the soft-voiced welcome of the serving maiden, as the soji is noiselessly pushed aside, and amid the subtle fragrance of the plum blossoms sink back among the silken cushions with that delicious sense of repose, while lulled to rest by the melodic echo of the koto strings, and find ourselves once more in fairyland Japan. And would it were only true!

Yet we are not all of us poets, and few of us are artists, and so find that there is prose beneath the fragrant blossoms that the poet's pen has so lavishly scattered over things Japanese. On the

PSM V43 D012 The siesta.jpg
The Siesta.

other hand, we find that the sweeping assertions regarding Japanese ethics and morals—or rather lack of morals—as contained in other writings on Japan, are both unjust and untrue.

On the one hand. Sir Edwin Arnold tells us that the women of Japan approach our ideal of the angelic, while another writer cries out against the utter lack of morality in Japanese women. Such diametrically opposed statements are distressingly confusing, and the characteristics of "angelic immorality" are hard to conceive of, and must be rather paradoxical, to say the least.

Should we desire to gain any true idea of the "prose and poetry" of Japan, we must look into the details of the home life of the people; for, after all, it is the daily routine, the domestic and social duties, the thoughts, pastimes, and aspirations typical