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DAUGHTER of Egypt, veil thine eyes !
I cannot bear their fire ;
Nor will I touch with sacrifice
Those altars of Desire.
For they are flames that shun the day,
And their unholy light
Is fed from natures gone astray
In passion and in night.
The stars of Beauty and of Sin,
They burn amid the dark,
Like beacons that to ruin win
The fascinated bark.
Then veil their glow, lest I forswear
The hopes thou canst not crown,
And in the black waves of thy hair
My struggling manhood drown!
You ask, O Frank! how Love is born
Within these glowing climes of Morn,
Where envious veils conceal the charms
That tempt a Western lover's arms,
And how, without a voice or sound,
From heart to heart the path is found,
Since on the
alone is flung The burden of the silent tongue. You hearken with a doubtful smile Whene'er the wandering bards beguile Our evening indolence with strains Whose words gush molten through our veins The songs of Love, but half confessed, Where Passion sobs on Sorrow's breast, And mighty longings, tender fears, Steep the strong heart in fire and tears.
The source of each accordant strain
Lies deeper than the Poet's brain.
First from the people's heart must spring
The passions which he learns to sing ;
They are the wind, the harp is he,
To voice their fitful melody
The language of their varying fate,
Their pride, grief, love, ambition, hate –
The talisman which holds inwrought
The touchstone of the listener's thought;
That penetrates each vain disguise,
And brings his secret to his eyes.
For, like a solitary bird
That hides among the boughs unheard
Until some mate, whose carol breaks,
Its own betraying song awakes,
So, to its echo in those lays,
The ardent heart itself betrays.
Crowned with a prophet's honor, stands
The Poet, on Arabian sands;
A chief, whose subjects love his thrall -
The sympathizing heart of all.
Vaunt not your Western maids to me,
Whose charms to every gaze are free:
My love is selfish, and would share
Scarce with the sun, or general air,
The sight of beauty which has shone
Once for mine eyes, and mine alone.
Love likes concealment; he can dress
With fancied grace the loveliness
That shrinks behind its virgin veil,
As hides the moon her forehead pale
Behind a cloud, yet leaves the air
Softer than if her orb were there.
And as the splendor of a star,
When sole in heaven, seems brighter far,
So shines the eye, Love's star and sun,
The brighter, that it shines alone.
The light from out its darkness sent
Is Passion's life and element;
And when the heart is warm and young,
Let but that single ray be flung
Upon its surface, and the deep
Heaves from its unsuspecting sleep,
As heaves the ocean when its floor
Breaks over the volcano's core.
Who thinks if cheek or lip be fair?
Is not all beauty centred where
The soul looks out, the feelings move,
And Love his answer gives to love ?
Look on the sun, and you will find
For other sights your eyes are blind.
Look - if the colder blood
share Can give your heart the strength to dare In eyes
of dark and tender fire : What more can blinded love desire ?
I was a stripling, quick and bold,
And rich in pride as poor in gold,
When God's good will my journey bent
One day to Shekh Abdallah's tent.
My only treasure was a steed
Of Araby's most precious breed;
And whether 'twas in boastful whim
To show his mettled speed of limb,
Or that presumption, which, in sooth,
Becomes the careless brow of youth,
Which takes the world as birds the air,
And moves in freedom every where,