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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908). A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895. 1895.

Arthur Symons 1865–1945

Javanese Dancers


TWITCHED strings, the clang of metal, beaten drums,

Dull, shrill, continuous, disquieting;

And now the stealthy dancer comes

Undulantly with cat-like steps that cling;

Smiling between her painted lids a smile

Motionless, unintelligible, she twines

Her fingers into mazy lines,

Twining her scarves them all the while.

One, two, three, four step forth, and, to and fro,

Delicately and imperceptibly,

Now swaying gently in a row,

Now interthreading slow and rhythmically,

Still with fixed eyes, monotonously still,

Mysteriously, with smiles inanimate,

With lingering feet that undulate,

With sinuous fingers, spectral hands that thrill,

The little amber-colored dancers move,

Like little painted figures on a screen,

Or phantom-dancers haply seen

Among the shadows of a magic grove.