To R.L.S.

You have said you'd like to go ``Where the golden apples grow; ...Where the Great Wall round China goes And on one side the desert blows, And with bell and voice and drum, Cities on the other hum;'' I on the other hand Spent childhood in a foreign land And never realized at all That it contained your mighty wall. I saw dragons in the street Moving on their human feet. From rickshaws pulled on muddy roads I watched the passing barrow loads, And sometimes I was borne in air On bamboo poles in bamboo chair. While you along the rails would fly And watch the stations whistle by. But oh, how many things I knew And all of them I learned from you. Your birdie with a yellow bill Hopped upon my window sill. With you I climbed your cherry tree. Beside our fence you swung with me. Your shadow was my very own Whether it had shrunk or grown. You taught me music, made words sing, Gave me rhythm's rush and swing, Gave me words like sluice and race, And pictures of another place. In Scotland's sun, in China's shade You and I together played, You with Nursie standing by, I under Amah's watchful eye, Miles apart in space and time, Companions in your world of rhyme.

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