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.