Lilatu Laili

At night on the radiant Rialto
   By the stars in their houses of glass,
I strolled with my soul in my pocket
   And prayed that my night might not pass; 
I have seen 'neath the high heels of Beauty
   My heart and my soul and my shame; 
That form! O, how often it lured me, 
   And how often I lost in the game! 

And how often I walked in the shadow 
   Of a Laila a mile and a mile! 
But the rapture and bliss of a vision
   Would end in a great gush of bile. 
To the hints that her garment would whisper 
    I have listened but I would not dare; 
I have seen every one of my fancies 
   Retreat in the dark of her hair. 

I have wished that each building around us 
   Was a cedar, a poplar, a pine; 
That the men and the women were statues, 
   And the rain that was falling was wine; 
That the lights were ethereal flowers; 
   That the cars were the nooks in the wood,—

"O, enough!" she exclaimed as she kissed me, 
    "This attic and couch are as good." 

From Myrtle and Myrrh (The Gorham Press, 1905) by Ameen Rihani. This poem is in the public domain.