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It matters not. But ’midst the tents
I rode in easy confidence,
Till to Abdallah's door I pressed
And made myself the old man's guest.
“ Peace be with you !” was returned
With the grave courtesy he learned
From age and long authority,
And in God's name he welcomed me.
The pipe replenished, with its stem
Of jasmine wood and amber gem,
Was at my lips and while I drew
The rosy-sweet, soft vapor through
In ringlets of dissolving blue,
Waiting his speech with reverence meet,
A woman's garments brushed my feet,
And first through boyish senses ran
The pulse of love which made me man.
The handmaid of her father's cheer,
With timid grace she glided near,
And, lightly dropping on her knee,
Held out a silver zerf to me,
Within whose cup the fragrance sent
From Yemen's sunburnt berries blent
With odors of the Persian rose.
That picture still in memory glows
With the same heat as then
the gush Of fever, with its fiery flush
Startling my blood; and I can see
As she this moment knelt to me —
The shrouded graces of her form ;
The half-seen arm, so round and warm ;
The little hand, whose tender veins
Branched through the henna's orange stains;
The head, in act of offering bent ;
And through the parted veil, which lent
A charm for what it hid, the eye,
Gazelle-like, large, and dark, and shy,
That with a soft, sweet tremble shone
Beneath the fervor of my own,
Yet could not, would not, turn away
The fascination of its ray,
But half in pleasure, half in fright,
Grew unto mine, and builded bright
From heart to heart a bridge of light.
From the fond trouble of
look The zerf within her fingers shook, As with a start, like one who breaks Some happy trance of thought, and wakes
Unto forgotten toil, she rose
And passed. I saw the curtains close
Behind her steps: the light was gone,
But in the dark my heart dreamed on.
Some random words — thanks ill expressed –
I to the stately Shekh addressed,
With the intelligence which he,
My host, could not demand of me;
How, wandering in the desert chase,
I spied from far his camping-place,
And Arab honor bade me halt
To break his bread and share his salt.
Thereto, fit reverence for his name,
The praise our speech is quick to frame,
Which, empty though it seem, was dear
To the old warrior's willing ear,
And led his thoughts, by many a track,
To deeds of ancient prowess back,
Until my love could safely hide
Beneath the covert of his pride.
And when his “Go with God! was said,
Upon El-Azrek's back I sped
Into the desert, wide and far,
Beneath the silver evening-star,
And, fierce with passion, without heed
Urged o'er the sands my snorting steed,
As if those afrites, feared of man,
Who watch the lonely caravan,
And, if a loiterer lags behind,
Efface its tracks with sudden wind,
Then fill the air with cheating cries,
And make false pictures to his eyes
Till the bewildered sufferer dies, –
Had breathed on me their demon breath,
And spurred me to the hunt of Death. •
Yet madness such as this was worth
All the cool wisdom of the earth,
And sweeter glowed its wild unrest
Than the old calm of brain and breast.
The image of that maiden beamed
Through all I saw, or thought, or dreamed,
Till she became, like Light or Air,
A part of life. And she shall share,
I vowed, my passion and my fate,
Or both shall fail me, soon or late,
In the vain effort to possess ;
For Life lives only in success.
I could not, in her father's sight,
Purchase the hand which was his right;
And well I knew how quick denied
The prayer would be to empty pride ;
But Heaven and Earth shall sooner move
Than bar the energy of Love.
The sinews of my life became
Obedient to that single aim,
• And desperate deed and patient thought
Together in its service wrought.
Keen as a falcon, when his eye
In search of quarry reads the sky,
I stole unseen, at eventide,
Behind the well, upon whose side
The girls their jars of water leaned.
By one long, sandy billock screened,
I watched the forms that went and came,
With eyes that sparkled with the flame
heart in flashes sent, As one by one they came and went Amid the sunset radiance cast On the red sands: they came and passed, And she, - thank God! - she came at last!
Then, while her fair companion bound
The cord her pitcher's throat around,