Eight Harvard Poets/From the Arabian Nights
FROM THE ARABIAN NIGHTS
THEN, as the whispering evening crossed the sea,
Sweeping the waters with her veil of grey,
Wave-worn and weary of the ocean, we
Beheld the enchanted island far away —
Half hidden in the twilight low it lay
On the horizon like a lazy cloud,
Its coasts encompassed with long lines of spray.
We spread the sails and swiftly the ship plowed
The purple path ahead until the surf sang loud.
Between the cliffs, by the faint stars, we found
A gloomy gate, and boldly sailing in,
Watched the dark mountains slowly closing round,
And heard faint echoes of the ocean's din
Melting like spirits' voices, fleet and thin;
When of a sudden, as we faltered nigh,
Out of the hills where only night had been
A mist of minarets and towers high,
Rose like the yellow light of morning in the sky.
Gazing we drifted toward that golden bloom
Of palaces whose light glowed on our sail;
There we floated wrapped in wild perfume;
Then music burst upon us in a gale;
Grave, deep-toned trumpets and the lyre's long wail,
And farther, the faint sound of singing men.
We grasped our oars—but slowly, as will pale
The morning star, the vision faded, then
The empty dark swept in and all was night again.