Thomas Bailey Aldrich
Latakia - Poem by Thomas Bailey Aldrich
When all the panes are hung with frost,
Wild wizard-work of silver lace,
I draw my sofa on the rug,
Before the ancient chimney-place.
Upon the painted tiles are mosques
And minarets, and here and there
A blind muezzin lifts his hands,
And calls the faithful unto prayer.
Folded in idle, twilight dreams,
I hear the hemlock chirp and sing,
As if within its ruddy core
It held the happy heart of Spring.
Ferdousi never sang like that,
Nor Saadi grave, nor Hafiz gay;
I lounge, and blow white rings of smoke,
And watch them rise and float away.
The curling wreaths like turbans seem
Of silent slaves that come and go,—
Or Viziers, packed with craft and crime,
Whom I behead from time to time,
With pipe-stem, at a single blow.
And now and then a lingering cloud
Takes gracious form at my desire,
And at my side my lady stands,
Unwinds her veil with snowy hands,—
A shadowy shape, a breath of fire!
O Love, if you were only here
Beside me in this mellow light,
Though all the bitter winds should blow,
And all the ways be choked with snow,
'Twould be a true Arabian night!
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