Robert Louis Stevenson

(1850-1894 / Edinburgh / Scotland)

Tales Of Arabia


YES, friend, I own these tales of Arabia
Smile not, as smiled their flawless originals,
Age-old but yet untamed, for ages
Pass and the magic is undiminished.

Thus, friend, the tales of the old Camaralzaman,
Ayoub, the Slave of Love, or the Calendars,
Blind-eyed and ill-starred royal scions,
Charm us in age as they charmed in childhood.

Fair ones, beyond all numerability,
Beam from the palace, beam on humanity,
Bright-eyed, in truth, yet soul-less houris
Offering pleasure and only pleasure.

Thus they, the venal Muses Arabian,
Unlike, indeed, the nobler divinities,
Greek Gods or old time-honoured muses,
Easily proffer unloved caresses.

Lost, lost, the man who mindeth the minstrelsy;
Since still, in sandy, glittering pleasances,
Cold, stony fruits, gem-like but quite in-
Edible, flatter and wholly starve him.

Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002

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