China Coast Ballads: With Illustrations by Sapajou

China Coast Ballads: With Illustrations by Sapajou


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China Coast Ballads: With Illustrations by Sapajou by Shamus A'Rabbitt, Georgi "Sapajou" Sapojnikoff

A collection of poetry—by poet laureate of the China Treaty Ports Shamus A'Rabbit—and cartoons by Sapajou, this compilation offers a fresh perspective on the foreign experience in Old China. From A'Rabbit’s sharp and hilarious portrayals of travelers in the Orient to his bouncy and rhythmic satirical wit and distaste for hypocrisy and pretension, this remarkable record paints a unique portrait of China in the colonial era.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9789888273652
Publisher: Earnshaw Books
Publication date: 08/01/2016
Series: China Classics Series
Pages: 280
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.00(h) x (d)

About the Author

Shamus A'Rabbitt was the pseudonym of James Aloysius Rabbitt, an American engineer who spent most of the years between World War I and World War II working in China and Japan. His poetry appeared in numerous Chinese and Japanese newspapers throughout his time in the Far East. Sapajou was the pseudonym of Georgi Sapojnikoff, a refugee from the Bolshevik revolution and a political cartoonist for the North-China Daily News and the North China Herald.

Read an Excerpt

China Coast Ballads

By Shamus A'Rabbitt, Sapajou

Earnshaw Books

Copyright © 2015 China Economic Review Publishing (HK) Ltd. for Earnshaw Books
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-988-8273-67-6


In the East

    In the East, in the East
    The ever glowing East —
    Though greatly overheated
    For sport you cannot beat it
    Where man can have a jolly time
    And "play the game" at least!

    In the East 'tis the style —
    With credit by the mile
    A man can have a debit
    Before he knows he has it
    And lovely lovely ladies
    Will greet him with a smile!

    In the East men will fall
    Obey the luring call —
    Or only get promotion
    By death or blind devotion
    To Taipans and their pals —
    The greatest man of all!

    For the East praises ring —
    The rovers ever sing —
    'Tis baffling, naughty, risky,
    Where men enjoy their whiskey
    And angel girls will smoke
    But never singe their wings!

    In the East — tropic isles —
    The natives clothe in smiles —
    With fruit disease foretelling
    The flowers bear no smelling
    In sizzling heat that mocks
    The devil with his wiles!

    In the East when it rains
    Lurk fevers in the drains —
    'Tis sad for those who're going
    But happy are they knowing
    That memory of friends
    And sportsmanship remains!

The Goddess Quench

    From Shanghai bound for Hongkong
    Through sweltering heat we sail —
    We dream of Pilsener tankards
    On good old Loyal Mail.

    We chug down China's coastline
    Where salamanders play —
    With dripping perspiration
    The order of the day.

    We hear the clanking fire-irons
    As lascars stoke the coal
    In Hades' firey furnaces
    'Adown the dirty hold.

    We hear the rumbling engines
    That thump with every stroke —
    The parched epiglottis
    Now makes us think we'll choke.

    Then Fritz the greasy steward
    Brings pilsener hot as hell
    We order him with orders
    To ice and cool it well.

    We go with others smiling
    Into the hot saloon
    For Sunday morning services —
    To last from ten till noon.

    'Tis thus we go to services
    The hottest day at sea
    To please the maiden passengers
    Whose heroes we would be.

    But as the doughty chaplain
    Is leading us in prayer
    Fritz calls us through the port-hole
    And "Cool Beer!" rends the air.

The Mystic City

    Here all the stars of heaven
    Are nestled on the waters
    Beneath the sparkling canopy of night —
    A thousand brilliant avenues
    Come flickering as a welcome —
    It is the mystic city that we sight.

    As mistress of old Neptune,
    She sits upon the ocean —
    The goddess of the world her sages plan —
    Her head within the heavens
    Her feet to stem the tide —
    She watches o'er the destiny of man.

    Her bosom it has nurtured
    From birth to hardy childhood
    An Eastern and a Western race's song —
    She's wed their art and science
    Cementing an alliance —
    A glory to the ages — stands Hongkong.

Innocents in the East

    O, William was so young and strong
    And not inclined to roam
    He filled his small-town church with song —
    A model boy at home!

    Till Destiny on one fine day —
    Broke in upon his life
    With bids — from China far away —
    Farewell to home and wife!

    In time he landed at Hongkong —
    We bailed him off the ship
    And introduced him to our hong
    And mysteries of the tip.

    Of wine and games and what is worse
    He promptly knew a lot
    And soon depleted was his purse —
    The pace was fairly hot.

    One thing that made on him a hit
    And filled his life with joy —
    The ease with which he signed a chit
    The fun it brought — Oh boy!

    * * *

    He couldn't resist
       The girls of this isle,
    Their dark liquid eyes
       And voluptuous smiles —
    From Venus to Mercury
       He went like a flash
    Skyrocketting — plummetting
       Earthward to crash.

    * * *

    Then home he went with route selected
       By us — to save our faces —
    And now he's where he's well protected
       From "dark and evil places" —

    Way back within the old home town
       He lectures every night
    And makes the local deacons frown
       O'er China's need for light!

Dancing Princesses of Hongkong

    On a gem of the ocean
    Pacific's blue breast
    A fairy's fair island
    Green coronal crest —

    Oft kissing the heavens —
    Head moistened with dew
    From tear-drops of even'
    'Neath skies deepest blue —

    Where sunsets like rainbows
    O'er waves strewn with pearls —
    Reflected in shadows
    Two glamourous girls —

    Two jewels of motion
    Two pearls of the ride
    Tokyo nymphs of the ocean
    Where mermaidens bide —

    These Princesses Charming
    The pride of their shore
    Had swains ever courting them
    E'en by the score —

    But they hoped that their fortune
    Would earn for their hands
    Two valiant courtiers
    From "Never-wed" lands.

    * * *

    In mournfulest sadness
    I finish my tale —
    These girls in their madness
    Eschewed every male —

    They danced o'er the mountains
    Through valleys and glades —
    Debarred from love's fountains —
    Two lovely old-maids.

A Far Eastern Variety

       Every little town
       Has a ladder of its own.

    When Madame de Jay besieged Hongkong
    With dash she made a hit —
    She vamped the men in many a hong
    As victims of her wit.

    She ordered gowns made by the score
    Of styles defying speech —
    For swimming, Madame's bathing suits
    Caused riots on the beach!

    Of books she read quite all reviews
    And prattled off her ware —
    She had no time for current news
    But made each woman stare.

    Poor old de Jay the simple soul
    Was entered in the race
    To make for every social goal
    And follow wifey's pace.

    And so he dined and wined and spent
    His funds upon all those
    Who never spent a single cent
    That anybody knows —
    They got their first big home — a freak —
    Sublet from Hongkongese
    But oh, it brought them near the Peak
    And made them feel at ease!

    'Twas planned about how nice 'twould be
    When Madame and her spouse
    Would go and shine for all to see
    To balls at Government House.

    But when the Governor's list came out
    Their names did not appear —
    The shroffs engaged them in a bout —
    To pay would take a year.

    And now they're gone — ambitious pair —
    Their guests forget their faces —
    But soon more climbers will prepare
    To come and take their places.

    Onward social climbers
    Keep on spending more —
    Owing butcher baker
    And the compradore.

To Sign or Not to Sign

    On the far off blue Pacific
    There's a tropic isle of dreams —
    Where a thirst can be terrific
    In the zone of silvery streams.

    When discovered in the fifties
    With mosquito and the ague
    It was thought that aqua vitae
    Was the only cure for plague.

    So the settlers took to drinking
    Liquor famous for the smiles
    It produced on spirits sinking
    On this gem of Eastern isles

    Where they never heard of Volstead
    Nor a limit of three miles —
    With their courage ever bolstered
    By their chits accrued in piles.

    'Twas a land of milk and honey
    But the milk made dividends
    And inn-keepers took no money
    For the drinks — which all depends

    On a misadvised governor
    With an idea in his head —
    'Twould be better to abolish
    All the chits and pay instead.

    The inn-keepers called their lawyers
    And the wisest men in town
    To protect their lounge and foyers
    And keep filthy lucre down.

    "We are here to serve good liquor
    But we must not ask for pay
    And we never like to bicker
    With our clients when they say:

    'All same boy! You muchee savvy
    Makee plenty ice for two —
    Chop chop catchee more one bottle
    Master makee look see you!'"

    Then the Legislative Council
    To their chambers they repaired
    And it's wise and controversial
    The opinions that were aired:

    "That our inns are now declining
    Is a point we're here to tell —
    They must serve their guests on signing
    Or this island will be hell!

    They must have no peppery clients
    And the servants take no cash
    Or the public in defiance
    Will reduce 'hotels' to smash!"

    One old bird contended
    That, "Our laws will never serve
    To save junor clerks intended
    For the dogs — who have the nerve

    To sign chits at other places —
    I won't mention nor infer —
    But our Youth must save their faces
    E'en if Life they learn from Her!"

    Then His Excellency thinking
    To correct these able men
    In their logic and their drinking
    Made discourse beyond their ken

    And instructed all his minions
    How to vote on laws like this
    Where the ballots and opinions
    May be cast to hit or miss.

    Lo — the sun went down and darkened
    And the moon shed not its light
    With the islanders disheartened
    O'er the world's most hopeless plight!

The Absent-minded Sport

    O, the joy of being careless —
    And oft absent-minded too —
    As a boy they made me fearless
    Of the things I had to do!

       When my time came to be married —
         In an absent-minded way —
       Through the days and weeks I tarried
         And forgot the wedding day —

    Then my girl engaged detectives
    And they saw me to the church
    As she thought my mind defective
    I might leave her in the lurch.

         But before the thing was over
         And the choir began to sing —
         Then somehow did I discover
         I'd forgot the wedding ring.

    All the answers I recited
    And 'twas so the knot was tied
    For you see I was excited
    Or you bet I would have lied!

         O, I never can get even
       With my wife and her refrain —
       Her advice I'm e'er receiv'n —
         It has driven me insane!

    "You must not forget your money —
    And be careful on the street —
    Don't forget to kiss me honey —
    Or, mislay your pearly teeth!"

       O, these words are ever ringing
         In my tired and weary ears
       While the Missie goes on singing
       "Dear, forget me not," in tears!

    Then I came out to the tropics
    Where I thought I needn't mind
    E'en forgetting current topics
    In the hot and fearsome grind!

       And I rented an apartment
       In the Past-her-house Hotel
       But forgot to pay the house-rent
       And the landlord gave me hell!

    So you see I got in trouble
    As I couldn't say a word —
    I forgot my teeth and "bubble" —
    Was all the landlord heard!
    Now my wife is on the war-path
    As she says I'm indiscreet —
    For I had a funny accident
    While looking for my teeth.

         I forgot my name and number
         As I wandered far and wide
       And disturbed the peace and slumber
         Of a neighbor and his bride.

    'Tis the worst of matrimony
    But if wifey goes to court —
    I'll forget the alimony
    As an absent-minded sport!


Excerpted from China Coast Ballads by Shamus A'Rabbitt, Sapajou. Copyright © 2015 China Economic Review Publishing (HK) Ltd. for Earnshaw Books. Excerpted by permission of Earnshaw Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


China Coast Ballads,
In The East,
The Goddess Quench,
The Mystic City,
Innocents In The East,
Dancing Princesses Of Hongkong,
A Far Eastern Variety,
To Sign Or Not To Sign,
The Absent Minded Sport,
As The Better Half Thinketh,
The Slacker,
Shore Leave,
Night Boat From Hongkong To Canton,
At Anchor,
The Sanctimonious Griffin,
Neptune's Daughter,
Dreaming On The Way To Old Nanning,
"Go Ye Forth and Spread The Gospel",
The Other Fellow,
How Do You Read Your Paper?,
The Call Primeval,
The Archeologist Of The Breakfast Table,
Wanted: A Name!,
Spare The Trees,
Nero The Hero,
Tropical Ecstasy,
The Family Shrine,
Our Synthetic World,
The Wisdom Of Satan,
Celestial Navigation,
Shanghai Waif,
Good Old World!,
The Thoroughbred,
Beauty And The Beast,
Many Happy Returns,
Alibi Julius E.,
Old Bill,
An Appreciation Of Nothing,
Thank God. For Thay,
Why Not?,
Brutus Was An Honorable Man!,
This Revolving World,
An Hour,
Desert Dreams,
Forbidden Fruit,
The Great Wall Of China,
The Story Teller,
The Passing Of Old Landmarks,
Wine Of Human Kindness,
Please Come Again,
Ode To Lady Bountiful,
Rainbow Chasers,
In Defense Of Nonsense,
The Forgotten Man,
The Forgotten Woman,
A Beachcomber's Lament,
Magnificence Of Failure,
The Swan-song Of A Refugee,
When We Go Sailing Home,
The Jolly Steward,
Stop! Look! Loosen!,
Lazy Days,
Man Overboard,
Chimes O'the Sea,
Tales O'the Sea,
A Whale Of A Jonah,
Ohio De Gozaimasu! Irashai!,
As We See Others,
Old Cap Says!,
The Fair Pacific,
Father Neptune,
The Wayside Isles,
Isles Of Liquid Sunshine,
Farewell To Our Steamer,
The Captain's Ball,
Land Ahoy!,
Home Again,
The Lure Of The East,

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