mjj (flemmings) wrote,

Birthday discovery for incandescens

See, the magic kingdom in Genjuu no Seiza is one of those 'vaguely in the desert/ silk roads/ take a left at Nepal and keep going' places that I can't place for the life of me. Central Asia (as I discover it's called) is something I never got straight, even when I was a classicist and read about Alexander whooping it up in Bactria and Sogdiana, nor when I was in Japan and everyone had Silk Roads on the brain (complete with Bactrian mummies at the science museum in Ueno, lovingly advertised every day before my Touyama no Kinsan reruns.) I read Tanhuang and Loulan by Inoue, but damned if I knew where those places were except basically 'west of China somewhere'. We won't even mention Ima Ichiko's Central Asian AU series that has perplexed paleaswater and myself so badly.

So I spent the week before last reading a book of my father's called The Golden Road to Samarkand, by a certain Wifrid Blunt, which is a kind of potted history of Great Men of the Silk Roads. I'm sure it's no more offensive in its approach than many things written by someone born when Queen Victoria was alive, and considerably less offensive than many.

Alas that the Great Men of the Silk Roads tended by and large to be addicted to mass slaughter (Tamurlaine is estimated to have killed seventeen million people, and did it without instruments of mass destruction or even opportune famines.) So with the exception of the occasional wandering monk and the Polo brothers, most chapters make dispiriting reading.

But Blunt introduces his book by referencing the work from which the title comes, Jame Elroy Flecker's The Golden Journey to Samarkand. If I understand correctly the verses are the epilogue to a long play called The Story of Hassan of Baghdad and How He Came to Make the Golden Journey to Samarkand, which I have no intention of reading online. And anyway Project Gutenberg doesn't include the stanza that Flecker deleted. Blunt however kindly reproduces the manuscript page where it's been crossed out but is still perfectly legible:
We have boys and girls of special kinds
White, brown, black, fragile or fair or strong
Their bosoms shame the roses: their behinds
Impel the astonished nightingales to song
Flecker originally wrote 'admiring nightingales' and then changed it; he also stole the line from Burton's 'translation' of the 1001 Nights, but that's another matter; and I can't make the second line scan, which may be why he deleted the verse in the first place. Or, you know, not. It also makes me wonder about Blunt, but not too hard: the man's been dead twenty years. And because it's been a long day it suggests the possibility of a 100 Demons story where Ojiro and Oguro take the place of the admiring nightingales, but that's one place I'm very certain I don't want to go.

So anyway, incandescens, I thought you might like to know that there's more to that Golden Oldie than gets printed. And a very happy birthday as well.
Tags: ima_ichiko, manga_07, place, reading_07

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