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 kindsFlecker 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.
White, brown, black, fragile or fair or strong
Their bosoms shame the roses: their behinds
Impel the astonished nightingales to song
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.