A small selection of poems from
Grass Blades from a Cinnamon Garden

Poems by Lilian M. Miller

Grass Blades from a Cinnamon Garden

In my garden of cinnamon trees
    I found young grass had sprung from root and stone,
        Marking the steps of song-enchanted spring;
    And as I wandered there half sad, alone,
In this garden of cinnamon trees,
    Softly I went from blade to gleaming blade,
    Gathered them in a sheaf of tender jade,
Wrapped them in fragrance from the southern breeze,
    Tied them with silken cord! And now I bring
Them to you—you, who alone were not afraid
    To teach me again, love, what it is to sing.


Little Songs from Seoul

    The Three-Foot Bamboo Pipe

If you should smoke a three-foot bamboo pipe
    Would it increase,
Inch by sweet inch, and puff by long, slow puff,
The soft contentment of a smoke, rebuff
All care and worry, change them to a ripe
    And mellow peace ?
If this is true, ah, then I understand
    Why in this wide, grey, wall-encircled land
    The old men smile and smile !

    Three Minutes: A Kaleidoscope

Down the grey road
A black bull ambles underneath a load
    Of young green pines;
His master is in white,
    With vivid turquoise lines
Close-binding wrist and sock,
    From a side-alley comes a slender maid
With swinging step, high on her head a crock
    Dun-colored, and her skirt of palest jade.
Blue trousers dash across the light
    On some gay lad; from out the doorway peeps
A cherry skirt; and lying just within,
Stretched on a sunny pile of yellow straw,
    A baby in a purple jacket sleeps . . . .
All this my eyes in three short minutes saw !


    Korean Love Song

    Soft notes that lean to the ear,
Sweet songs that flutter like jasmine leaves
    As the West lies lulled in dreams—
    As the West lies lost in dreams—
And over the valleys of rice Dusk weaves
    Her curtain with silent sleeves.
    Slim hands like pink cherry buds,
Dark eyes that smile through their fringe of jet
    And gleam in the moon’s bright ray—
    And flash in the moon’s white ray—
O poignant hours ere the pale stars set,
    O perfumed arms that have met !
    White jade to pillow my cheek,
Fresh peony petals to press my lips
    Till Night folds her screen in the East—
    Till Night draws her screen from the East—
And through the courtyards the grey Dawn trips,
    Through the lattice the grey Dawn slips.


    At Choanji (Diamond Mountains, Korea)

We have turned gentle Time to a bird of steel
    Clucking the moments in exacting tone ;
    It holds us with rigid claws, we are never alone,
Never serene. We spin, turn, spin, and feel
Goaded relentlessly onwards.  Were truth told,
    I fear it could be said that we have lost
    All sense of due proportion, and are tossed,
Thin spinning bubbles, where hot fevers hold
Their breathless, senseless sway.
                Thank God that here
    The tranquil sweetness of silver crag and pine
    Rests still unbroken, as in mellow line
Soft-footed days tread out a rounded year . . . .
And Time is a calm old priest who falls asleep
As orioles call, or the morning shadows creep.