Its patrons prized the flaws
born of well-bred fires. Glazes
hatched in the kiln. Craze
became crackle and crackle
the craze. The universe
spun on a potter’s wheel.
This stoneware vase endures
as if the shame of hope
were written on the lip
that bade the Song farewell.
Long ago, imperial
favor turned from celadon
to painted porcelain,
Zhejiang to Jingdezhen.

                                               —J. S. Westbrook

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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 40 Number 6, on page 30
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