From “Muʻallaqāt” [Canst thou make me immortal]

Canst thou make me immortal, O thou that blamest me so 
For haunting the battle and loving the pleasures that fly? 
If thou hast not the power to ward me from Death, let me go
To meet him and scatter the wealth in my hand, ere I die.

Save only for three things in which noble youth take delight, 
I care not how soon rises o’er me the coronach loud: 
Wine that foams when the water is poured on it, ruddy, not bright, 
Dark wine that I quaff stol’n away from the caviling crowd;

And then my fierce charge to the rescue on back of a mare 
Wide-stepping as wolf I have startled where thirsty he cowers; 
And third, the day-long with a lass in her tent of goat’s hair 
To hear the wild rain and beguile of their slowness the hours.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on April 14, 2024, by the Academy of American Poets.