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.
 
Lament of Old Age
By From The Arabian Nights
 
(Translated by Sir Richard F. Burton, 1885–7)

O FOLK I have a wondrous tale, so rare
Much shall it profit hearers wise and ware!
I saw in salad-years a potent Brave
And sharp of edge and point his warrior glaive;
Who entered joust and list with hardiment        5
Fearless of risk, of victory confident,
His vigorous onset straitest places oped
And easy passage through all narrows groped:
He ne’er encountered foe in single fight
But came from tilt with spear in blood stained bright;        10
Nor stormed a fortress howso strong and stark—
With fencèd gates defended deep and dark—
When shown his flag without th’ auspicious cry
“Aidance from Allah and fair victory night!”
Thuswise full many a night his part he played        15
In strength and youthtide’s stately garb arrayed,
Dealing to fair young girl delicious joy
And no less welcome to the blooming boy.
But Time ne’er ceased to stint his wondrous strength
(Steadfast and upright as the gallows’ length)        20
Until the Nights o’erthrew him by their might
And friends contemned him for a feckless wight;
Nor was a wizard but who wasted skill
Over his case, nor leach could heal his ill.
Then he abandoned arms abandoned him        25
Who gave and took salutes so fierce and grim;
And now lies prostrate drooping haughty crest;
For who lives longest him most ills molest.
Then see him, here he lies on bier for bed:—
Who will a shroud bestow on stranger dead?        30
 
 
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