O my Love, how long wilt thou continue
Fondly nursing every dreaming Hour!
Our Lebanus, O my Love, is calling,
Yea, and waiting in his ancient Tower.
In his ancient, cedar-shaded castle,
Night and day, Lebanus sits a-musing
Of the memories that bloom unnoticed
Every season at the feet of Sorrow;—
Musing of the radiant days of Tammuz
That went dancing with the bride of summer
Down the deep and pine-encircled Wadi;—
Musing of the time the Prophets kindled
Sacred fire in Man's empurpled temples,
Blazing all the highways of the world;—
Musing of the days embattled monarchs
Laid their shields and lances at his feet,
Bowed before his throne invincible.
O my Love, the sad and lonely Cedar,
Ever rocking in her arid splendor,
Ever in penurious shades embosomed,
Reaches out for water in the meadows
And for sunlight in deserted vineyards;—
Rears her hope above the snow eternal
Crowning her Time-hallowed desolation.
O my Love, the crumbling Temple's dreaming
Of the star that wanders from its orbit,
Of the rose that blooms and dies forsaken,
Of the leaves that fall from sheltering branches
Only to become the sport of chance winds
Or the bed of some unsightly creeper;—
Dreaming of the Lebanon lily, drooping
In the dells beneath forbidding ridges;—
Dreaming of the corymbs of the elder
That forgot the touch of loving hands,
For the zephyr of the South, which passes
O'er their bloom of tender welcome, only
Fans into a flame the smoldering embers
Of the anguish of departed lovers.
O my Love, the furzes are in full bloom
Waiting on the terrace of Lebanus
For the ardent and enamored seeker,—
Waiting, and the secret of their silence
Locked remains within their shells of amber
Till thou comest, till they hear thee whisper,
I am thine and thou art mine forever.
O my Love, how long wilt hither tarry,
Making toys of Time's discarded hours?
Fair Lebanus, O my Love, is calling,
Yea, and waiting in his House of Flowers.
And around it wings of song unnumbered,
Amber-tinted, beryline, vermilion,
Pour their riches in the land of mourning,
Strew their silver in the olive grove,
Weave their magic through the almond blossoms,
Shake the incense from the terebinths,
Spread in vain their gladness o'er the pines.
Yea, a sea of Siren witchery,
Like the sundown inundates the heaven,
Rolling o'er a sea of boughs emblossomed,
Multi-hued, aglow with burning rapture;—
Waves of song are on the scented breezes,
Rolling o'er the virgin snow of Sanneen,
O'er the trackless verdure of the lowland,
O'er the mottled mountains joined forever
In a wild embrace of stony silence;—
Rolling over Wadis fondly nursing
Cyclamens of unremembered seasons,
Oleanders of unfathered beauty,
Irises of mothered tenderness.
Yea, my Love, the robin in the olives
Thrills the very shadows of the branch;
In the pomegranate, thrush and skylark
Fills its crimson cups with flaming rapture;
In the fig tree and the laden vineyard,
Bulbuls chant the joy of harvest-time.
Yea, my Love, the birds of dawn are calling,
Whispering, chattering, warbling everywhere,
Dancing, flitting, waiting in the groves,
Lingering in the chinks of terraces,
Making early visits to their young.
Nay, they're busy making preparation
For thy coming, longing to behold thee,
Signing meanwhile to the morning star,
Which borrows from thine eyes its radiance,
From thy tresses, all its golden splendor.
O my Love, how long wilt hither tarry,
Wilt dally with the web of Time, how long?
Lone Lebanus, O my Love, is calling,
Yea, and waiting in his House of Song.
And over it our star is re-appearing!
The star of our own destiny is rising
O'er the mountains of embrace eternal,
O'er the cedars of the sacred faith,
O'er the ruins of the ancient temple,
Flooding them with light of tender pallor
Like the light that lingers in the eyes
Of parted lovers,—shaking from the bosom
Of night their shadows, dew-drenched, iris-scented,—
Garlanding the messengers of morning
For the coming of the well-loved stranger.
Yea, the Star of Love, the Light supernal,
Before which bowed the world in adoration,
Is re-appearing in the Orient heaven
For thy sake, for thee, O my Belovéd.
Yea, without thee, neither song nor flower
Nor star nor temple of antique Lebanus,
Has aught compelling of the Soul's devotion.
But with thee, the caves, the naked ridges,
The very rocks betoken the divine.
O my Love, how long wilt hither tarry
Weaving gossamer of day and night?
Sad Lebanus, O my Love, is calling,
Yea, and waiting in his House of Light.
From A Chant of Mystics (James T. White & Co., 1921) by Ameen Rihani. This poem is in the public domain.