I walked into her Temple, as of yore
My Tyrian sires, allured by cryptic signs;
But sudden as I entered closed the door
Upon the hope that mortal love resigns
Before her ancient, myrtle-bowered shrines.
I sorrowed not; though every lamp I lit
Flamed up in speech articulate and said,
Beware, O foolish Worshipper! ’t is writ:
“Who craves a gift shall give his soul instead,
Who lights a lamp is curséd of the dead.”
I did not heed; I passed from shrine to shrine,
Filling the lamps with oil, the Fane with light;
But when I approached, O One Eternal, thine,
I heard the terror of her tongue, and Night
Was creeping on her brow of malachite.
I did not stop, although the votive oil
I poured into thine urn to water turned;
But when the Dawn her enchantments came to foil,
The secret of thy clemency I learned—
Again the oil thine altar burned.
The suddenly the Temple shook and swayed,
And all the shrines, except thine, disappeared;
Even so her heart, by knowledge undismayed,
On Love’s one altar with thy hand upreared,
To Love’s one God is evermore endeared.
From A Chant of Mystics (James T. White & Co., 1921) by Ameen Rihani. This poem is in the public domain.