Near the Cascades

            Hold back thy lips, I pray;
             Just let me rest this way;
            My soul is in the spray
Arising from the silvery cascades murmuring
            farewell to the day.

            Thy kisses ’neath a sigh
            Of mine extinguished lie;
            O friend, I choke, I die:
Pray, let me raise my head to see the parting
            Light, the vivid sky,

            If every kiss of thine
            Is safety kept with mine
            For one for whom I pine,
Wouldst thou, contented with the taking, call my
            love a love divine?

            Ay, and for every tear
            Thou sheddest when I’m near
            I shed a score to hear
Her echo my desire’s sigh, albeit she is not thy

            If I were but a reed,
            Or but a fern or weed,
            This would not be my creed;
But prick thou these cold slips and all the roots
            of me in heaven will bleed.

            Thy burning breath is creeping
            All over me; ’t is leaping
            Into my bones and sweeping
Their ashes out, up and into mine eyes, alas!
            the awful reaping.

            No longer do I fear,
            Nor see, nor feel, nor hear;
            No longer am I near;
If thou wilt quench thy flame, kiss now the lips
            that were to thee so dear.

            As well kiss thou the grass
            On which I lay, alas!
            Like me, thou too wilt pass;
One kiss will turn thy lips to ashes and one tear,
            thine eyes to glass.

            Beneath this hemlock tree
            A clod I leave to thee;
            But over land and sea
My soul is rising, rising, rising, searching for the
            gods that be.

            But gods have lived, and lied,
            And loved, and fell, and died;
            And like me too they cried
For mercy at the snow white feet of Beauty’s
            Beauty’s bride.

            And when from Beauty’s spell
            Her soul is free, she’ll dwell
            In mine, the storm to quell;
In mine she’ll rise to realms of bliss, or swiftly
            whirl into the deepest hell.

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