Midnight Mood

There's one upon whose youthful breast I fain would die: 
     My soul upon her lingering lips through mine I'd pour
     In torrents that would reach and thrill Love's every shore—
In floods that drown the earth and rise to drown the sky. 

But how can I? Alas, the leaves must shield the flower, 
    And silent see her proferring to the butterfly
    Her cheeks, her honeyed lips, her soul,—O how can I?
In all the worlds, to change my being, is there no power? 

How oft I rise at night to probe the human laws, 
    My beating temples all my waking hours recording! 
    And nor solution, nor repose my task affording,—
How oft my carnal silence cries for the bliss that was! 

The bliss that generous nature gives, that man denies—
   A bliss that's chained in idle words and damned codes
   And creeds and customs creeping in their dark abodes—
The bliss that's lost within an endless maze of lies. 

Pray, tell me, must the North Wind blow and sweep by rule? 
    Must he the virgin ponds and springs and rills avoid? 
    See how the ocean, panting, rising, overjoyed, 
Holds out her arms to him,—why not the limpid pool? 

And thou, O human Ocean,—would that I could give 
   In equal measure, when beneath me thou art parting! 
   O, generous, fiery soul, in love though I am wanting, 
My flesh, within thy passion's hearth, will glow and live. 

Thou art the twilight; I'm the dawn; yet we shall meet 
   And flood the firmament with fire and rainbow beauty. 
   No unfed sun or moon shall rob us of our booty, 
And if the gods should frown,—is not the rebellion sweet? 

But ah, live Twilight! why cannot the Dawn be true? 
   Why can't I quaff from thy sad lips, as thou, from mine? 
   Why can't this heart, forgetting once, as well be thine? 
How can I my most holy passion tame, subdue? 

That youthful breast, imprisoned, I see through thine own; 
    Those Eastern eyes cannot be hidden by thy flame; 
    That form, as I am in thine arms—O, do not blame—
In mine I fancy,—let me die in shame alone! 

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