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.