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Jean Lyon (1902-1960) — early writing (1920)

Transcriptions below of three pieces in The Abbot Courant, a literary journal of Abbot Academy, in Andover, Massachusetts (merged with Phillips Academy in 1973); Jean D. Lyon was Class of 1920.

“Mokanshan — My Birthplace”

Direct links to the publication (Phillips Academy, Archives and Special Collections, via archive.org) are given below the respective transcriptions. All available scans of the Abbot Courant are arrayed at archive.org : link (note: not well arranged by date)

Abbot Academy : wikipedia : link

  1. “Sonnet”

    I was a ship fast in the harbor tied.
    The gentle breezes rocked me in my nest;
    The softened waters lulled me into rest,
    In stupor, thus I lay, but for the tide.
    But — “On, sail out and on,” my captain cried,
    “Sail out to some new shore; seek some new quest.
    Now sail! for honor of our royal crest.
    You would not here forever useless bide.”
    Then slowly I broke loose from my strong mooring;
    Reluctantly, my long-closed sails I spread,
    But — vision of a goal forever luring
    Me on to lands of promise far ahead
    Aroused me. In my captain faith securing
    I knew ’twas “On, and ever on,” he’d said.
                      Jean D. Lyon, 1920

    The Abbot Courant 46:1 (January 1920) : 7 : link

  2. “Lizzie”

          He was “Lizzie” to everyone on the missionary compound; for when the young folks first called him that in pleasantry it so suited him that he was doomed to be “Lizzie” to his dying day. Now “Lizzie”, as one might suppose, was an exceedingly effeminate old gentleman. In stature he was very short and thin. His shrivelled form and humped shoulders gave him the appearance of some Rip Van Winkle awakened from an age buried pages deep in history books. He had scrawny, bony hands, made more gruesome by their long, curling nails. Above all he had a face made up of nothing but protruding teeth and eyes encased in an atrocious pair of tortoise rimmed glasses. He was, moreover, an Oriental, and to accentuate the appropriateness of his title he wore the long silk gown of the Chinese scholar.
          “Lizzie” was by profession a teacher of pure Pekinese, although it was a standing fact among the experienced missionaries that he had never set foot within Pekinese territory. What he did speak, however, being a cross between several indistinguishable dialects, had a tone of Chinese about it which seemed to have gained for him a position among the missionaries years ago. His method of teaching was even more unique than his dialect, for he was one of the very oldest Chinese school of learning in existence. Having always learned by rote, he expected to teach the Westerners by rote; and having always accepted facts as they were given to him, he expected his Occidental pupils to accept his teachings with no questionings. But too many times for his feeble constitution was he shocked and astonished by the boldness and inquisitiveness of his Western pupils. How often was he mortified by kindly advice as to his methods! How often did he stare in utter amazement at innocently posed questions concerning the “Wen Li” or others of the classics! How dolefully did he shake his brainless head at the Western breaches in etiquette!
          But it was not the fault of the aforementioned missionaries that this sad mixture of self-esteem and inability stayed with them for so many years; on the other hand, it was that “glueish” propensity, which “Lizzie” seemed either to have inherited or attained by persistent effort, which kept him there. It is said that [18] one elderly missionary — noted for his sincere kindness and generosity — was once attacked and thereafter so continually that even he had to resort to an escape through the servant’s quarters when he saw “Lizzie” approaching the compound gate! Once in a while, however, escape was impossible, so that our elderly missionary had the chance of finding for poor “Lizzie” at least four new positions in a month. After every possible client had learned how little “Lizzie” knew, the kind-hearted missionary, who was himself very learned in the Chinese classics, engaged “Lizzie” to transcribe a certain Chinese document for him on the following day. The following day arrived with a profusely apologetic note from “Lizzie” saying that he was ill and “Lizzie” remained ill for some weeks!
          Cling, he would, however — disappearing for a time, and then returning to impose himself on the indulgent missionaries, who each by turn, in fits of kindly purpose, would sit under his slow instruction. “Lizzie” may be living yet, and if he is, we venture to say that he is still persisting! For although he was one of those characters whom one might speak of having “missed his calling,” he was certainly faithful to his mistake.
                      Jean Lyon, 1920

    The Abbot Courant 46:2 (June 1920) : 17-18 : link

  3. “Mokanshan — My Birthplace”

          Many, many years ago, so we are told, the two great walled cities of Hangchow and Hoochow, which are in that great land of China, were rivals, and their rivalry was continually resulting in skirmishes and wars. But the two dujuins [督軍, warlords?], who ruled the cities finally realized the uselessness of the continual hostilities and came together to decide on a means of ending them. After many days of conferring it was decided that one year from the date of the decision the two dujuins, with all their followers, should meet at an appointed place, each bringing with him the largest cock he could find in the empire. The city whose cock should win in the ensuing fight would be thenceforth acknowledged as the superior. The months passed quickly — months filled with searchings, and secret negotiations between dujuins and farmers, until the day arrived. All the inhabitants of the two cities, resplendent in their holiday reds, were assembled when the two dujuins rode up to the spot appointed for the fight, seated in their dragon be-decked sedans, each followed by an immense cage borne by a long line of hardy coolies. The cages were set side by side, while the dujins, followed by the throngs of people, were carried off to a nearby hill where they could easily view the fight. In suspense the people watched the unlocking of the cages, and at last they they saw stalk forth two great cocks, far larger than any imagination can conceive. The cocks met. The fight was on. Dirt and feathers were hurled in every direction, and in terror the inhabitants of the cities fled to the protection of their walls. The cocks fought with such fury that farms were destroyed for miles around and people could not leave the cities for days. At last, however, some country folk reported that the cocks were dead, and that all was safe. Daring farmers began to venture beyond the walls; and some even rebuilt their tiny huts and replanted their torn-up rice fields. Not until several months had passed, however, did the two dujuins dare to visit the scene and discover the results of their destructive project. All enmities had for a time ceased between the two cities on account of their common fear; but it was now generally recognized that some final decision must be arrived at. So again, the dujuins met; and again, [24] they road toward that fatal spot. But as the approached this time, what had formerly been a vast plain of rice fields and farms, they saw looming up ahead of them as a huge mountain. It was very lovely, very massive, and very green; and as they neared its foot they began to realize its significance. As the villagers had reported, the cocks had kicked up a huge mound of earth in their fury, and that mound had been covered from top to bottom with their feathers. This massive mountain, then, was that mound; and these dainty bamboos covering the mountain from summit to base were the feathers of those fateful cocks. The dujuins, who had both stepped from their chairs, faced each other, now, as friends. “This is now the mountain of peace,” said the dujuin of Hangchow. “And the mountain of love,” answered the dujuin of Hoochow.
          That, the legend says, was many years ago; but the mountain — Mokanshan — still signifies peace and love. Its people, to be sure, live crude and rustic lives, but who lives more happily, more lovingly, more peacefully than they? The farmer, who lives at the foot of the mountain, wades through his rice fields day after day humming weird, gay little tunes; he tills his terraced up-hill plots chanting snatches of by-gone legends; he carries his baskets of crops, slung over his shoulder by a long pole, up to the mountain-side villages, keeping step all the way to a tuneful “ai-ho-ai-ho”. He is happy while he works, he loves the mountain, so he peacefully plots along — singing. At night, when the farmer’s song has ceased, and when his tiny thatched hut is as still as the bamboo groves about it, there are still others on that peaceful hill hard at work — the coolie, who prefers to do his tedious work by night than under the heat of the China sun. Up and down he goes with his two great buckets of spring water over his shoulder, a crude little candle-lantern dangling from his pole, laboriously climbing and reclimbing thousands of rough-hewn steps. His tiny light wends in and out among the slender shadows, and his lusty “haloo” to fellow workers echoes in the stillness of the night. Other friendly “haloos” echo back in answer, and other tiny lantern lights bend their courses toward his. These flickering lights gather and together the coolies take their midnight bowl of rice and their cup of tea in a dimly lighted [25] bamboo eating house. But soon the lanterns separate, and jovial calls resound from ravine to ravine. Back to his own task each man of them goes. He loves the mountain — and is happy.
                      Jean Lyon, 1920

    The Abbot Courant 46:2 (June 1920) : 23-25 : link

Mokanshan / Moganshan

“mountain located in Deqing County, Huzhou, Zhejiang Province, China, 60 kilometers from the provincial capital Hangzhou and 200 km from Shanghai. It is part of the Moganshan National Park and at its base is the small town of Moganshan.”
wikipedia : link

“Mogan Mountain is known as the ‘Cool World’, with the ‘clear, quiet, cool and green’ natural environment and bamboo sea villas as the main features, known as ‘the first mountain in the south of the Yangtze River’. It is listed as one of the four major summer resorts in China together with Lushan Mountain, Beidaihe Mountain and Jigong Mountain.”
auto-trans, Chinese wikipedia : link

Maura Elizabeth Cunningham, two blog posts, with photos of church, vacation villas, scenery —
“The Ghosts of Moganshan” (November 17, 2012) : link
“More from Moganshan” (May 9, 2013) : link

Edward Wong, “Moganshan Journal : Restoring Life to Mountain Retreat Where Mao Napped,” The New York Times (June 15, 2011) : link   (paywall) —

“The first to build and occupy European-style stone villas atop this bamboo-cloaked mountain were the foreign missionaries. Then came Big-Ear Du and other Shanghai gangsters looking for a getaway (or maybe hideaway). Later still, the big guns rolled in: Chiang Kai-shek and Mao Zedong...”

17 July 2023