Upon the Peak of Sanneen
My soul and I, upon the peak
Of Sanneen grim and grey,
Sat musing in the twilight of
A sombre summer day.
“Great Saturn and the Moon are gone
Together o’er the sea;
But will great Saturn e’er return
Should he elope with thee?
Ah well, who knows? when thou art gone
I, too, shall sink within the brine,—
I, too, shall sail above this peak
And signal yonder groves of pine.
Behold the melancholy sky
Of this forgotten land;
On this side are the valleys bleak.
On this, the desert sand.”
“I hear the moaning of the wind,”
My sad companion said;
“The snow is gathering in me
And the night is overhead.
Long have we dwelt together, friend,
In our sweet ennui;
But were I now to take my leave,
Alas, what would I be?”
“O, think not of departing.
Ah, too young I am to die;
I’ll find the magic wings; and there
Still hangs a friendly sky.
Let us above these pines, and clouds,
And scents awhile yet dwell;—
Where wouldst thou go, if thou wert now
To sigh a last farewell?”
Thou seest the busy elements
Dissolving one by one
The souls that are acquitted.
For the all-absorbing sun.
Let’s sing the song of darkness then;
Thy prison is the Whole;—
What canst thou do, where wilt thou go,
What wilt thou be, my Soul?
Thou wouldst not be the air that weighs
Upon the rising dust;
Thou wouldst not be the fog that chokes
The air in savage lust.
Thou wouldst not be the clouds that block
The smoke’s way to a star;
Nor linger in the guilty tears
Of clouds before the bar.
Thou wouldst not be the rain that taunts
The all-devouring sea,
Itself destroying many a nest
In bush and rock and tree.
Thou wouldst not be the thunder’s tongue
Spell-binding all the spheres;
Nor wouldst thou be the lightning blade
That stabs and disappears.
Thou wouldst not be the dew that falls
Alike on thorn and flower;
Nor even the morning zephyr
That blows o’er den and bower.
Thou wouldst not be the virgin snow
Set free from yonder clouds,
Only to melt beneath the feet
Of surging human crowds.”
“No! none of these,” my Soul replied;
“I’ll shiver ever thrall;
O let me rise, for I would be
The sky above them all.”
From Myrtle and Myrrh (The Gorham Press, 1905) by Ameen Rihani. This poem is in the public domain.