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The Works of J. W. von Goethe/Volume 9/The Chinaman in Rome


THE CHINAMAN IN ROME.

In Rome I saw a stranger from Pekin:
Uncouth and heavy to his eye appeared
The mingled piles of old and modern time.
"Alas!" he said, what wretched taste is here!
When will they learn to stretch the airy roof
On light pilastered shafts of varnished wood—
Gain the fine sense, and educated eye,
Which only finds in lacquer, carvings quaint,
And variegated tintings, pure delight?"
Hearing these words, unto myself I said,
"Behold the type of many a moon-struck bard,
Who vaunts his tissue, woven of a dream,
'Gainst nature's tapestry, that lasts for aye,
Proclaims as sick the truly sound; and this,
That he, the truly sick, may pass for sound!"