[O Málik! I pray thee go for the wine full early]

O Málik! I pray thee go for the wine full early, 
And if it be dear to buy, then buy it dearly! 
Bethink thee how once a grizzled old tavern-keeper, 
Whose whiskers were black with blowing the tarry wineskin,
I called, as he lay where slumber had stolen o’er him — 
His head sunk low, the left hand’s palm his pillow; 
And he at my cry arose with a start of terror,
And hastened to light the wick, and it flared, and straightway 
His terror was flown: he had gotten a look of gladness 
And gaily haha’d—a clatter of idle laughter. 
When now by the flame my features were lit, he gave me 
The greeting of love, asked many a courteous question;
And into his hand I counted a thousand dirhems
To lodge me a month, with freedom for either party.
I found in his pleasure-domes two noble virgins
Of family high and proud, and became their bridegroom.
’Tis thus I have ever lived and am living ever,
Away my religion goes and my wealth in armfuls.
As oft as we meet, I like what the law forbiddeth,
And never can bear to like what the law hath hallowed.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on April 7, 2024, by the Academy of American Poets.