Ode 457

THE Princess of the box-trees, she that vies
In stature with that straight and shining tree,
And queen of those the lashes of whose eyes
Abase the strength of captains, yesterday
Met me, her humble dervish, in the way;
Drunk and transfigured with red wine was she.
She spake, and sweet her glance upon me fell:

“O eye and lamp of our sweet Persian tongue,
That empty purse I see thou carriest still,
Stranger to gold and silver as of yore!
Give me thine ear, O dervish—I will tell
How thou its lean and shabby paunch may fill,
To fill it hear a quicker way than song:
Be but my slave, and thou art poor no more.

“Be but my slave, it shall be thine to eat
Of all the silver fruits of this fair tree;
This garden shall be thine from head to feet;
Be but my slave, and thine its golden key.

“Thou art too fearful—not so humble thou
As yonder mote that dances in the sun,
Yet in the golden vortex of far fire
At last it whirls along, its journey done;
Be but my slave, and like it thou shalt be
Swept up into the heart of my desire.”

She ceased, and I, continuing my way,
Unto a meadow set with tulips came.
“East Wind,” I asked, “who are these martyrs, they
That in their bloody shrouds stand here aflame?”
“I know not,” the wind answered; “none can say.
HAFIZ, a sacred mystery is this:
Pursue it not, lest, HAFIZ, thou shouldst miss
A wisdom thou dost surely understand.
Of little silver bosoms be thy song,
And Venus faces, and small silver chins;
Such are the themes best suited to thy tongue.
Take thou the wine-cup firmly in one hand,
And with the other unto Heaven cleave;
Satan behind thee, cleansed of all thy sins,
The mysteries to the Beloved leave.”