The Scolding of the Empire Child

by Oliver A. Moxham


From the Lowlands came the first of them,

Inquisitors from afar.

Politely they came seeking out

Where the Eastern nations are.


They were stashed inside a cubby-hole

Down in ancient Nagasaki,

But the Shogun came to mistrust them

and tried to send them packing.


Their manners and technologies

Would serve him well, but no.

Their religious types kept pestering,

Telling people ‘This is so!’


And so he decreed a cutting off,

Pulling down the nation’s shutter.

Better to keep their God away

And the country free from butter.


As samurai held down the land

With their dominions and steel,

The Western world kept pushing on

To lands which were yet to kneel.


Peoples fought and fell for naught

To Empirical swords and guns.

And all the while peace was held

In the Land of the Rising Sun.


In Edo, the Shogun sat and smiled,

“Lasting peace, thanks to me!”

And so it held ’til Perry came

in 1853.


America, a bastard son

of Europe’s warring states,

Sent a message with their fleet

To say, “Open up your gates!”


Well, steel swords don’t count for much

When there’s no ships to hold your sea.

So when the deadline came around

They told them “Let us be!”


The Shogun gone, a new age came

Full of foreigners abound.

What delights were held in farthest East,

What power could there be found.


Brits, Fritz and Yanks all sought

For an ally in the East.

They poured upon them luxuries

Of the industrial elite.


Yet while Japan was told of spoils

Of the colonialist’s prize,

They were much too late to play the game,

Due to the Unknown’s shrunken size.


Peace had held the land for years,

While war claimed the world around.

Untouched nations were scarcely left,

Flagpoles kept the lessers bound.


As time moved on and interest waned,

The new nation grew in years.

Yearning for the Empire’s way,

They went after their arrears.


The world, an ever-changing place,

Had moved past that early stage.

Joined together, the Western world

Sought a better, peaceful age.


And so it was the Empire Child

Had been taken by surprise

When he was beaten by the very hands

That had ushered him to rise.



Oliver is a student at the University of Sheffield, studying Japanese Studies and History after having spent nine months travelling in Japan. After his time there, he was left with a strong impression of how its distinct traditional culture coexisted with strong European influences, and have been inspired since to find the Japanese voice in a history dominated by a Eurocentric dialogue. Oliver can be followed at @olliemox on Twitter.

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