Verse > Anthologies > T. R. Smith, ed. > Poetica Erotica: A Collection of Rare and Curious Amatory Verse
T. R. Smith, comp.  Poetica Erotica: Rare and Curious Amatory Verse.  1921–22.
Poems from the Arabic
By From The Arabian Nights
(Translated by Sir Richard F. Burton, 1885–7)

I ASKED the author of mine ills
To heal the wound with one sweet kiss:
No! No! she cried, forever no!
But I, soft whispering, urged Yes:
Quoth she, Then take it by my leave,        5
When smiles shall pardon thine amiss:
By force, cried I? Nay, she replied,
With love and gladness eke I wis.
Now ask me not what next occurred,
Such grace of God and whist of this!        10
Deem what thou wilt of us, for love
By calumnies the sweeter is:
Nor after this care I one jot
Whether my foe be known or not.
*        *        *        *        *
And faulty of one fault the Beauty prove,        15
Her charms a thousand advocates shall move.
For her sins is a pleader that brow,
And all hearts its fair pleading must trow:
When I saw it I cried, “Tonight!
The moon at its fullest doth show;        20
Tho’ Balkis’ own Ifrit try a bout,
Spite his force she would deal him a throw.”
*        *        *        *        *
I am not lost to prudence, but indeed
Here I’m bewildered, what shall be my rede?
Would any aid me in mine ails of love,        25
By my own might and sleight would I be freed:
But ah! my heart is lost and passion-shent;
To none save Allah can I trust my need!
With heavy back parts, high breasts delicate,
And lissome form that sways with swinging gait,        30
She lightly hides love-longing in her breast;
But I may never hide its ban and bate:
While hosts of followers her steps precede,
Like pearl now necklaced and now separate.
*        *        *        *        *
Hadst thou been leal in love’s loyalty,        35
Ne’er hadst suffered sleep to seal those eyne;
O thou who claimest lover loyalty,
Treading the lover’s path of pain and pine!
By Allah, O my cousin, never yet
Did eyes of lover sleep such sleep indign.        40
O thou who deignest some at so rest syne,
Whose lips those teeth like necklaced pearls enshrine!
I kissed him thousand times and clipt his waist,
And spent the night with cheek to cheek close li’en,
Till to depart us twain come dawning day,        45
Like sword-edge drawn from sheath in radiant line.
*        *        *        *        *
Women for all the chastity they claim,
Are offal cast by kites where’er they list:
This night their talk and secret charm are thine;
That night another joyeth calf and wrist:        50
Like inn, whence after night thou far’st at dawn,
And lodgers other night thou has not wist.
*        *        *        *        *
O beauty’s Union! love for thee’s my creed;
Free choice of Faith and eke my best desire:
Women I have foresworn for thee; so may        55
Deem me all men this day a shaveling friar.
Even not beardless one with girl, nor heed
The spy who saith to thee, “’Tis an amiss!”
Far different is the girl whose feet one kisses
And that gazelle whose feet the earth must kiss.        60
My soul thy sacrifice! I chose thee out
Who art not menstruous or oviparous:
Did with woman mell, I should beget
Brats till the wide world grew strait for us.
She saith (sore hurt in sense the most acute        65
For she had proferred what did not besuit):—
“Unless thou stroke as man should swive his wife
Blame not when horns thy brow shall incornùte!
Thy wand seems waxen, to a limpo grown,
And more I palm it, softer grows the brute!”        70
Quoth she (for I lie with her forbare),
“O folly-following fool, O fool to core:
If thou my coynte for Kiblah to thy coigne
Reject, we’ll show thee what shall please thee more.”
She proferred me a tender coynte.        75
Quoth I, “I will not roger thee!”
She drew back, saying, “From the Faith
He turns, who’s turned by Heaven’s decree!
And front-wise futtering, in one day,
Is absolute persistency!”        80
Then swung she round and shining rump
Like silvern lump she showèd me!”
I cried: “Well done, O mistress mine!
No more am I in pain for thee;
O thou of all that Allah oped        85
Showest me fairest victory!”
*        *        *        *        *
Men craving pardon will uplift their hands;
Women pray pardon with their legs on high:
And on it for a pious, prayerful work!
The Lord shall raise it in the depths to lie.        90
Of evil things the folks suspect us twain;
And to this thought their hearts and souls are bent:
Come, dear! let’s justify and free their souls
That wrong us; one good bout and then—repent!
*        *        *        *        *
When his softly bending shape bid him close to my embrace        95
Which clipt him all about like the tendrils of the vine,
And shed a flood of softness on the hardness of his heart,
He yielded; though at first he was minded to decline;
And dreading lest the railer’s eye should light upon his form,
Came armourèd with caution to baffle his design:        100
His waist makes moan of hinder cheeks that weigh upon his feet
Like heavy load of merchandise upon young camel li’en;
Girt with his glances ’scymitar which seemed athirst for blood,
And clad in mail of dusky curls that show the sheeniest shine,
His fragrance wafted happy news of footstep coming nigh,        105
And to him like a bird uncaged I flew in straightest line:
I spread my cheek upon his path, beneath his sandal-shoon,
And lo! the stibium of their dust healed all my hurt of eyne.
With one embrace again I bound the banner of our loves,
And loosed the knot of my delight that bound in bonds malign:        110
Then bade I make high festival, and straight came flocking in
Pure joys that know not grizzled age nor aught of pain and pine:
The full moon dotted with the stars the lips and pearly teeth
That dance right joyously upon the bubbling face of wine:
So in the prayer-niche of their joys I yielded me to what        115
Would make the humblest penitent of sinner most indign.
I swear by all the signs of those glories in his face
I’ll ne’er forget the Chapter entituled Al-Ikhlas.
*        *        *        *        *
Cleave fast to her thou lovest and let the envious rail amain;
For calumny and envy ne’er to favour love were fain.        120
Lo, whilst I sleep, in dreams I saw thee lying by my side
And from thy lips the sweetest, sure, of limpid springs did drain.
Yea, true and certain all I saw is, as I will avouch,
And ’spite the envier, thereto I surely will attain.
There is no goodlier sight, indeed, for eyes to look upon,        125
Than when one couch in its embrace enfoldeth lovers twain.
Each to the other’s bosom clasped, clad in their twin delight,
Whilst hand with hand and arm with arm about their necks enchain,
Lo, when two hearts are straitly knit in passion and desire,
But on cold iron smite the folk who chide at them in vain.        130
Thou, that for loving censures the votaries of love,
Canst thou assain a heart diseased or heal a cankered brain?
If in thy time thou find but one to love thee and be true,
I rede thee cast the world away and with that one remain.
*        *        *        *        *
Seest not that pearls are prized for milky hue,        135
But with a dirham buy we coals in load?
And while white faces enter Paradise,
Black faces crowd Gehenna’s black abode.
I love not black girls but because they show
Youth’s colour, tinct of eye and heartcore’s hue:        140
Nor are in error who unlove the white,
And hoary hairs and winding-sheet eschew.
Black girls in acts are white, and ’tis as though
Like eyes, with purest shine and sheen they show;
If I go daft for her, be not amazed;        145
Black bile drives melancholic-mad we know:
’Tis as my colour were the noon of night;
For all no moon it be, its splendours glow.
I visit them, and night-black lendeth aid to me
Seconding love, but dawn-white is my enemy.        150
How many a night I’ve passed with the beloved of me,
While gloom with dusky tresses veilèd our desires:
But when the moon-light showed it caused me sad affright;
And I to Morning said, “Who worship light are liars!”
He came to see me, hiding neath the skirt of night,        155
Hasting his steps as wended he in cautious plight.
I rose and spread my cheek upon his path like rug,
Abject, and trailed my skirt to hide it from his sight;
But rose the crescent moon and strove its best to show
The world our loves, like nail-slice raying radiant light:        160
Then what befell befell: I need not aught describe;
But think thy best, and ask me naught of wrong or right.
Meet not thy lover save at night for fear of slander
The Sun’s a tittle-tattler and the Moon’s a pander.
I love not white girls blown with fat who puff and pant;        165
The maid for me is young brunette embonpoint-scant.
I’d rather ride a colt that’s dark upon the day
Of race, and set my friends upon the elephant.
Seest not that musk, the nut-brown musk, e’er claims the highest price,
Whilst for a load of whitest lime none more than dirham bids?        170
And while white speck upon the eye deforms the loveliest youth,
Black eyes discharge the sharpest shafts in lashes from their lids.
*        *        *        *        *
My lover came to me one night,
And clipt we both with fond embrace;
And lay together till we saw        175
The morning come with swiftest pace.
Now I pray Allah and my Lord
To reunite us of His grace;
And make night last me long as he
Lies in the arms that tightly lace.
*        *        *        *        *
How joyously sweet are the nights that unite,
When my dearling deigns keep me the troth she did plight;
When union conjoins us in all that we have,
And parting is severed and sundered from sight,
To us comes the world with her favour so fair,        185
After frown and aversion and mighty despight!
Hath planted her banner Good Fortune for us,
And we drink of her cup in the purest delight.
We have met and complained of the pitiful Past,
And of nights a full many that doomed us to blight.        190
But now, O my lady, the Past is forgot;
The Compassionate pardon the Past for unright!
How sweet is existence, how glad is to be!
This union my passion doth only incite.
In spite of envier’s jealousy, at end        195
We have won all we hoped of the friend:
We’ve crowned our meeting with a close embrace
On quilts where new brocades with sendal blend;
On bed of perfumed leather, which the spoils
Of downy birds luxuriously distend.        200
But I abstain me from unneeded wine,
When honey-dews of lips sweet must can lend:
Now from the sweets of union we unknow
Time near and far, if slow or fast it wend,
The seventh night hath come and gone, O strange!        205
How went the nights we never reckt or kenned;
Till on the seventh wishing joy they said,
“Allah prolong the meet of friend with friend!”
O day of joys to either lover fain!
The loved one came and free from lonely pain:        210
She blest me with all inner charms she hath;
And companied with inner grace deep lain:
She made me drain the wine of love till I,
Was faint with joys her love had made me drain:
We toyed and joyed and on each other lay;        215
Then fell to wine and soft melodious strain:
And for excess of joyance never knew,
How went the day and how it came again.
Fair fall each lover, may he union win
And gain of joy like me the amplest gain;        220
Nor weet the taste of severance’ bitter fruit
And joys assain them as they us assain!
*        *        *        *        *
She cried while played in her side Desire,
And Night o’er hung her with blackest blee:—
“O Night shall thy musk bring me ne’er a chum        225
To tumble and futter this coynte of me?”
And she smote that part with her palm and sighed
Sore sighs and a-weeping continued she,
“As the toothstick beautifies teeth e’en so
Must prickle to coynte as a toothstick be.        230
O Moslems, is never a stand to your tools,
To assist a woman’s necessity?”
Thereat rose upstanding beneath its clothes
My yard, as crying, “At thee! at thee!”
And I loosed her trouser-string, startling her:        235
“Who art thou?” And I said, “a reply to thy plea!”
And began to stroke her with wrist-thick yard,
Hurting hinder cheeks by its potency:
And she cried as I rose after courses three
“Suit thy gree the stroke!” and I—“suit thy gree!”        240

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