Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. II. Love
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume II. Love.  1904.
 
VII. Love’s Power
“Fly to the desert, fly with me”
Thomas Moore (1779–1852)
 
Song of Nourmahal in “The Light of the Harem”

“FLY to the desert, fly with me,
Our Arab tents are rude for thee;
But oh! the choice what heart can doubt
Of tents with love or thrones without?
 
“Our rocks are rough, but smiling there        5
The acacia waves her yellow hair,
Lonely and sweet, nor loved the less
For flowering in the wilderness.
 
“Our sands are bare, but down their slope
The silvery-footed antelope        10
As gracefully and gayly springs
As o’er the marble courts of kings.
 
“Then come,—thy Arab maid will be
The loved and lone acacia-tree,
The antelope, whose feet shall bless        15
With their light sound thy loneliness.
 
“Oh! there are looks and tones that dart
An instant sunshine through the heart,
As if the soul that minute caught
Some treasure it through life had sought;        20
 
“As if the very lips and eyes
Predestined to have all our sighs,
And never be forgot again,
Sparkled and spoke before as then!
 
“So came thy every glance and tone,        25
When first on me they breathed and shone;
New, as if brought from other spheres,
Yet welcome as if loved for years!
 
“Then fly with me, if thou hast known
No other flame, nor falsely thrown        30
A gem away, that thou hadst sworn
Should ever in thy heart be worn.
 
“Come, if the love thou hast for me
Is pure and fresh as mine for thee,—
Fresh as the fountain underground,        35
When first ’t is by the lapwing found.
 
“But if for me thou dost forsake
Some other maid, and rudely break
Her worshipped image from its base,
To give to me the ruined place;        40
 
“Then, fare thee well!—I ’d rather make
My bower upon some icy lake
When thawing suns begin to shine,
Than trust to love so false as thine!”
 
There was a pathos in this lay,        45
  That even without enchantment’s art
Would instantly have found its way
  Deep into Selim’s burning heart;
But breathing, as it did, a tone
To earthly lutes and lips unknown;        50
With every chord fresh from the touch
Of music’s spirit, ’t was too much!
Starting, he dashed away the cup,—
  Which, all the time of this sweet air,
His hand had held, untasted, up,        55
  As if ’t were fixed by magic there,
And naming her, so long unnamed,
So long unseen, wildly exclaimed,
“O Nourmahal! O Nourmahal!
  Hadst thou but sung this witching strain,        60
I could forget—forgive thee all,
  And never leave those eyes again.”
 
The mask is off,—the charm is wrought,—
And Selim to his heart has caught,
In blushes, more than ever bright,        65
His Nourmahal, his Harem’s Light!
And well do vanished frowns enhance
The charm of every brightened glance;
And dearer seems each dawning smile
For having lost its light awhile;        70
And, happier now for all her sighs,
  As on his arm her head reposes,
She whispers him, with laughing eyes,
  “Remember, love, the Feast of Roses!”
 
 
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