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Song Book of Quong Lee of Limehouse   By: (1886-1945)

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The Song Book of Quong Lee


Thomas Burke


Buying and Selling The Power of Music The Lamplighter In Reply to an Invitation A Night Piece A Smile Given In Passing Of a National Cash Register Under a Shining Window Exchange of Compliments A Song of Little Girls Of Shop Windows At the Feast of Lanterns One Service Breeds Another An Offer of a Lodging Of Two Dwellings Concerning English Gambling Of Politicians Of the Great White War At the Time of Clear Weather Parent and Child Of Worship and Conduct Going to Market A Portrait On a Saying of Mencius Dockside Noises Reproof and Approbation The Feast of Go Nien Directions for Making Tea Of Inaccessible Beauty Night and Day Of a Night in War Time A Love Lesson A Rebuke Upstairs Footsteps Making a Feast The Case of Ho Ling An Upright Man Breaking Point An English Gentleman

Buying and Selling

Throughout the day I sit behind the counter of my shop And the odours of my country are all about me Areca nut, and betel leaf, and manioc, Lychee and suey sen, Li un and dried seaweed, Tchah and sam shu; And these carry my mind to half forgotten days When tales were plentiful and care was hard to hold.

All day I sell for trifling sums the wares of my own land, And buy for many cash such things as people wish to sell, That I may sell them again to others, With some profit to myself.

One night a white skinned damsel came to me And offered, with fair words, something she wished to sell.

Now if I desire a jacket I can buy it with coin, Or barter for it something of my stock. If I desire rice spirit, that, too, I can buy; And elegant entertainments and delights are all to be had for cash.

But there is one good thing above all precious, That no man may buy. And though I buy readily most things that I desire, This thing that the white maid offered at my own price I would not buy.

The Power of Music

In the little room behind my shop I refresh myself of an evening with my machine that sings.

Two songs has my machine that sings: And these are 'Hitchy Koo' and 'We don't want to lose you.'

When, in the evening, a friend honours me with a visit, I engage his ears with the air of 'Hitchy Koo'; But when I am afflicted with a visit From those who fill me with a spirit of no satisfaction, I command my machine that sings To render the music of 'We don't want to lose you.'

The noise that at this moment greets the ear Of the elegant visitor to this despicable hovel Is the incomparable music of 'Hitchy Koo'; And the price of this person's tea, mister, Is but a paltry six shillings the pound.

The Lamplighter

The dark days now begin, when in afternoon The Great Night Lantern makes a razor edge Of black and white in the streets. And one comes, called the Lamplighter, And the straight stiff lamps of these stiff London streets, At his quick touch burst into light.

At this shy hour I see from my unshaded window Bright girls, hair flowing, go by with shuttered faces, Holding close captive their warm insurgent bosoms. And then, at the corner, Some slender lad of bold and upright carriage Greets them, and the shuttered lanterns of their faces Burst with light at the touch of the lamplighter.

Oh, kind ingenious lamplighter, Will you please step this way?

In Reply to an Invitation

Don't think of me as one of no courtesy O elegant and refined foreign one, If I do not accept your high minded invitation To drink rice spirit with you At the little place called The Blue Lantern, near Pennyfields. Please don't regard me as lacking in gracious behaviour, Or as insufferably ignorant of the teachings of the Book of Rites

But I am sojourning here in a strange land, And am not fully informed of the usages of your dignified people... Continue reading book >>

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