Verse > Anthologies > T. R. Smith, ed. > Poetica Erotica: A Collection of Rare and Curious Amatory Verse
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T. R. Smith, comp.  Poetica Erotica: Rare and Curious Amatory Verse.  1921–22.
 
Two Odes of Masrur
By From The Arabian Nights
 
(Translated by Sir Richard F. Burton, 1885–7)

I
I AM taken: my heart burns with living flame
For Union shorn whenas Severance came,
In the love of a damsel who forced my soul
And with delicate cheeklet my reason stole.
She hath eyebrows united and eyes black-white,        5
And her teeth are leven that smiles in light:
The tale of her years is but ten plus four;—
Tears like Dragon’s blood for her love I pour.
First I saw that face ’mid parterre and rill,
Outshining full Lune on horizon-hill;        10
And stood like a captive for awe, and cried,
“Allah’s Peace, O who in demesne doth hide!”
She returned my salam, gaily answering
With the sweetest speech likest pearls a-string.
But when heard my words, she right soon had known        15
My want and her heart waxed hard as stone,
And quoth she, “Be not this a word silly-bold?”
But quoth I, “Refrain thee nor flyte and scold!
An to-day thou consent such affair were light;
Thy like is the loved, mine the lover-wight!”        20
When she knew my mind she but smiled in mirth
And cried, “Now, by the Maker of Heaven and Earth!
I’m a Jewess of Jewry’s direst e’er seen,
And thou art naught save a Nazarene.
Why seek my favours? Thine’s other caste;        25
An this deed thou do thou’lt repent the past.
Say, does Love allow with two Faiths to play?
Men shall blame thee like me, at each break of day!
Wilt thou laugh at beliefs and deride their rite,
And in thine and mine prove thee sinful sprite?        30
And thou lovedst me thou hadst turnèd Jew,
Losing worlds for love and my favours due;
And by the Evangel strong oath hadst sworn
To keep our secret intact from scorn!”
So I took the Torah and sware strong oath        35
I would hold to the covenant made by both.
Then by law, religion and creed I sware,
And bound her by oaths that most binding were;
And asked her, “Thy name, O my dear delight?”
And she, “Zayn al-Mawásif at home I’m hight!”        40
“O Zayn-al-Mawásif!” cried I “Hear my call:
Thy love hath made me thy veriest thrall!”
Then I peeped ’neath her chin-veil and ’spied such charms
That the longing of love filled my heart with qualms.
’Neath the curtain I ceased not to humble me,        45
And complain of my heart-felt misery;
But when she saw me by Love beguiled
She raised her face-veil and sweetly smiled:
And when breeze of Union our faces kiss’d
With musk-pod she scented fair neck and wrist;        50
And the house with her essences seemed to drip,
And I kissed pure wine from each smiling lip:
Then like branch of Bán ’neath her robe she swayed
And joys erst unlawful she lawful made:
And joined, conjoined through our night we lay        55
With clip, kiss of inner lip, langue fourrée.
The world hath no grace but the one loved fere
In thine arms to clasp with possession sheer!
With the morn she rose and she bade Good-bye,
While her brow shone brighter than moon a-sky;        60
Reciting at parting (while tear-drops hung
On her cheeks, these scattered and other strung),
“Allah’s pact in mind all my life I’ll bear
And the lovely nights and strong oath I sware.”
 
II
Stand thou and hear what fell to me
        65
For love of yon gazelle to dree!
Shot me a white doe with her shaft
O’ glances wounding woundily.
Love was my ruin, for was I
Straitened by longing ecstasy:        70
I loved and woo’d a young coquette
Girded by strong artillery,
Whom in a garth I first beheld
A form whose sight was symmetry.
I greeted her and when she deigned        75
Greeting return, “Salám,” quoth she.
“What be thy name?” said I, she said,
“My name declares my quality!
Zayn al-Mawásif I am hight.”
Cried I, “Oh, deign I mercy see,        80
Such is the longing in my heart
No lover claimeth rivalry!”
Quoth she, “With me an thou’rt in love
And to enjoy me pleadest plea,
I want of thee, oh! muchel wealth;        85
Beyond all compt my wants o’ thee!
I want o’ thee full many a robe
Of sendal, silk and damaskry;
A quarter quintal eke of musk:
These of one night shall pay the fee.        90
Pearls, unions and carnelian-stones
The bestest best of jewelry!”
Of fairest patience showed I show
In contrariety albe:
At last she favoured me one night        95
When rose the moon a crescent wee;
An stranger blame me for her sake
I say, O blamers, listen ye!
She showeth locks of goodly length
And black as blackest night its blee;        100
While on her cheek the roses glow
Like Lazá-flame incendiary:
In every eyelash is a sword
And every glance hath archery:
Her liplets twain old wine contain,        105
And dews of fount-like purity:
Her teeth resemble strings o’ pearls,
Arrayed in line and fresh from sea:
Her neck is like the neck of doe,
Pretty and carven perfectly;        110
Her bosom is a marble slab
Whence rise two breasts like towers on lea;
And on her stomach shows a crease
Perfumed with rich perfumery;
Beneath which same there lurketh a Thing        115
Limit of mine expectancy.
A something rounded, cushioned-high
And plump, my lords, to high degree:
To me ’tis likest royal throne
Whither my longings wander free;        120
There ’twixt two pillars man shall find
Benches of high-built tracery.
It hath specific qualities
Drive sanest men t’ insanity;
Full mouth it hath like mouth of neck        125
Or well begirt by stony key;
Firm lips with camelry’s compare
And shows it eye of cramoisie.
An draw thou nigh with doughty will
To do thy doing lustily,        130
Thou’ll find it fain to face thy bout
And strong and fierce in valiancy.
It bendeth backwards every brave
Shorn of his battle-bravery.
At times imberbe, but full of spunk        135
To battle with the Paynimry.
’Twill show thee liveliness galore
And perfect in its raillery:
Zayn al-Mawásif it is like
Complete in charms and courtesy.        140
To her dear arms one night I came
And won meed given lawfully;
I passed with her that self-same night
(Best of my nights!) in gladdest glee;
And when the morning rose, she rose        145
And crescent like her visnomy:
Then swayed her supple form as sway
The lances lopt from limber tree;
And when farewelling me she cried,
“When shall such nights return to me?”        150
Then I replied, “O eyen-light,
When He vouchsafeth His decree!”
 
 
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