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ILLUSTRATIONS

THE BOYHOOD OF RALEIGH. By Sir John Millais Frontispiece

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A VOYAGE TO THESE STRANGELY PEOPLED COUNTRIES OF

THE WORLD's YESTERDAYS WOULD BE A VOYAGE
ALONG THE BAYS, GULFS, AND PROMONTORIES OF THE

HUMAN MIND IN ITS STATES OF DREAM
CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS AT THE COURT OF FERDINAND

THE CATHOLIC AND ISABELLA OF CASTILE. By V. von

Brozik.
ACCORDING TO TRADITION, A PUTRID STREAM Flows

FROM THE ROOTS OF THE TREE AND THE VAPORS

THEREOF KILL
IN CALDILHE THERE GROWETH A MANNER OF FRUIT, AND

MEN FIND WITHIN A LITTLE BEAST AS THOUGH IT

WERE A LAMB WITHOUT WOOL
THE FIRST PEOPLE ENGAGED IN SUCH COSMIC ADVEN-

TURES AS WARFARE AGAINST STONE GIANTS
A SATYR. By Jacob Jordaens
Men FEARED THEM, AS EMBODYING THE LONELINESS OF

WASTE PLACES

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THUSNELDA AT THE TRIUMPHAL ENTRY OF GERMANICUS

INTO ROME. By C. T. von Piloty
THE STEEPS OVERHEAD SEEMED FIT ABODE FOR GIANTS

AND DWARFS AND GRIFFINS—FOR CITIES OF ENCHANT-
MENT

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THE ENCHANTED WOODS OF ROMANCE WITH THEIR

GOBLIN GLOOMS AND TALKING TREES FADED FROM THE
MINDS OF MEN

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“Build Us, O DOUL-KARNAIN," THEY BEGGED, “A RAM

PART BETWEEN US AND THEM"
IN ISLANDS MEN PLACED THEIR IDEAL STATES. To

REACH FELICITY ONE Must CROSS WATER
ROARING FORTIES. By F.J. Waugh .
THE THINGS OF THE SPIRIT ANIMATED SPAIN IN SOME OF

THE QUESTS IT FOLLOWED BESIDE THE STILL WATERS

OF THE LAKES OF DREAM .
THE GARGOYLES OF STONE WHICH KEPT WATCH DAY

AND NIGHT

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MARCO TALKS WITH HIS NEIGHBORS

THE TIME: 1295 A.D.
THE PLACE: Venice, the Rialto.

THE SPEAKER: Marco Polo.
THE CHORUS: Citizens of Venice.

“I FARED,said Marco, as far as one may,

From Astrakhan to the ports of Cathay,
And sailed two years on the Pitch Dark Sea;
And something I learned of the ways of man.
There is a place that they call Japan,

And Russia lies where the north winds be;
The plain of Lop is haunted by dragons;
Dark are the damsels and fierce the flagons

In the Thousand Islands of Spicery.

"Far are these lands and fair is their sheen, But tell us, Polo, what have you seen?”

I saw," said Marco, the pagans at masses
And Tibetan dogs the size of asses,

And oil from the ground, and black stones, blazing.
I saw pink pearls from an unknown strand,
And ten-pound peaches of China-land,

And bales of silk that were past appraising.
I saw the Malabar pepper farmers
And cannibal sharks subdued by charmers,

But the grunting ox was most amazing.'

Much have you seen where the wild capes curve, But tell us, Polo, whom did you serve?

"I served,said Marco, "the Khan of Khans.
His edict runs with the caravans

As far as the east is from the west.
The Turk and the Hindu hold his charters,
He sways Cathaians, Persians, and Tartars,

Yet Kublai welcomes the stranger guest.
His deeds are writ upon purple pages,
A shepherd king but a sage of sages,

And his thousand damsels are Asia's best."

Him must a thousand matters perplex, But, Polo, speak yet more of the sex.'

MARCO TALKS WITH

TALKS WITH HIS NEIGHBORS

"The men of Gobi," said Marco, "require
Their dames to sit by the stranger's fire,

And make his favor the tribal boast.
Frail are the women in Pin-yang-fu,
And delicate quin-sai wenches woo

Ambassadors from the Pepper Coast.
Though maids with feet as swift as the wind
May dance, all bare, for the gods of Ind,

The women of Persia please the most.

Whimsical, Marco, your travel word.
Is there aught else that you saw or heard?”

I heard,said Marco, "but do not know,
That Tartar shamans summon the snow,

And suns shine not for the Samoyed.
In southern countries its fabled horn
Means less than its tongue to the unicorn,

Which licks its victims until they are dead.
Here is a text for songs or sermons:
When babes are born to the female Burmans,

Their foolish husbands hie them to bed."

Rose, then, a shout from a hundred lips:
Marco, the tar of a thousand trips,
Marco the man of a million quips,

Marco, Marco, Milioni!
And they who would hold the East in fee,
Men of the pitiful midland sea,
Nobles and commons, laughed shamelessly.

Which the catcher, and who the coney?
What I have seen is truly averred,
But what I have heard iswhat I have heard!"

Thus to himself, with a secret mirth,
The only man who had seen the earth.

PREFACE

The book gives a view of the earth and its inhabitants as seen through the haze of distance, whether of space or of time. Its purpose is to present those myths and half-myths of geography which are loosely and yet significantly called travel tales. It treats of various countries and races and animals which are, or were, or might have been. Although their true domain is the imagination, their supposed domain is, or was, somewhere on the earth. The Coasts of Illusion, as glimpsed here, are nowhere the shores of the supernatural.

Always the two tend to merge and the problem has been to keep them apart. The travel tales of the race have grown out of, or become entangled with, myths in which men sought to figure the creation of the world, the journeys of the sun from dawn to darkness, the conflicts of light with storm and night and winter, the high places of the gods and their incarnations and agents. Yet the tales are touched with reality, while the myths are unearthly.

Ulysses tarried among the Phacakians, and these were a cloud people; but he skirted the land of the lotus-eaters, and these were a mundane folk. Who were the lotus-eaters? Achilles fought with Memnon, son of the Dawn, but also with Penthesilea, the Amazon queen. Who were the Amazons? Hercules was of the progeny of Olympian Zeus, but wandering on earth he passed through the land of the pygmies. Who were the pygmies? What reality lies back of the fabulous animals and Deformed Folk that peopled the mountains and deserts?

For thousands of years men accepted the realms and races of prodigy. It was only about a century ago that these disappeared from the maps and natural histories. The frontiers of ignorance had been pushed back so far that the never-never countries dropped off into the sea. There was no longer room for the phenix to flap its wings, the dragon to hiss and roar, the giants to stalk, the kangaroo-men to hop.

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