Charles Hanson Towne

(1847-1949 / United States)

A Lover In Damascus

Poem by Charles Hanson Towne

Far, far across the desert sands,
I hear the camel-bells;
Merchants have come from alien lands,
With stuffs, and gems, and silken bands,
Back where their old love dwells.

O my beloved, far way
Are cities by the sea;
Yet should I go to far Cathay
For many a weary night and day,
My dreams were still of thee.


Through the old city's silence,
Where the Abana flows,
O harken to the nightingale
Sing lyrics to the rose!

But through the dusk no answer
Is ever breathed or sung,
Tho' the bird's heart with pleading
The whole long night is wrung.

Yet well the lonely songster
Knows that the red rose hears.
... Ah, Love, I need no answer,
But let me see your tears!


Beloved, in your absence I have told
My love for you to every little flower--
Vermilion, pink and purple, red and gold--
That blossoms in our fragrant-hearted bower.

And should I die ere you come back again,
Would not the rose my golden vows repeat?
Yes, every bloom would whisper through the rain,
And fling its perfumed message at your feet!


How many a lonely caravan sets out
On its long journey o'er the desert, Doubt,
Yet comes basck home laden with ivory,
With gold, and gums, and scarfs from oversea.

So went my lonely heart forth on its quest;
Through torrid wastes and parched ways it pressed.
Empty and sad it left the city gate,
But came back with your precious love for freight!


If in the great bazaars
They sold the golden stars,
Beloved, there would be
A necklace strung for thee,
More wonderful than any known or dreamed of, Love, by me.

If wealth could buy the mist
By Dawn's pale, pearl lips kissed,
Beloved, there should be
A white veil wrought for thee,
More marvellous than that faint film which hangs above the sea.


Ah! when the dark on many a street descends,
Our joy more swiftly runs;
Heart of my heart, our great love never ends,
Though set ten thousand suns!

Allah be with us when that last deep night
Shall wrap us round about;
And Love be with us, with her steadfast light,
When Death our spark blows out!

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Poem Submitted: Saturday, April 3, 2010