The Beautiful Beeshareen Boy

Beautiful , black-eyed boy,
O lithe-limbed Beeshareen!
Face that finds no maid coy,
Page for some peerless queen:
Some Orient queen of old,
Sumptuous in woven gold,
Close-clinging fold on fold,
Lightning, with gems between.

Bred in the desert, where
Only to breathe and be
Alive in living air
Is finest ecstasy;
Where just to ride or rove,
With sun or stars above,
Intoxicates like love,
When love shall come to thee.

Thy lovely limbs are bare;
Only a rag, in haste,
Draped with a princely air,
Girdles thy slender waist.
And gaudy beads and charms,
Dangling from neck and arms,
Ward off dread spells and harms
Of Efreets of the waste.

Caressed of wind and sun,
Across the white-walled town
Fawnlike we saw thee run,
Light Love in Mocha brown!
Wild Cupid, without wings,
Twanging thy viol strings;
With crocodiles and rings
Bartered for half a crown.

Spoilt darling of our bark,
Smiling with teeth as white
As when across the dark
There breaks a flash of light.
And what a careless grace
Showed in thy gait and pace;
Eyes starlike in a face
Sweet as a Nubian night!

Better than Felt or Fez,
High on thy forehead set,
Countless in lock and tress,
Waved a wild mane of jet.
Kings well might envy thee
What courts but rarely see,
Curls of rich ebony
Coiled in a coronet.

Lo—in dim days long since—
The strolling Almehs tell,
Thou shouldst have been a prince,
Boy of the ebon fell!
If truth the poet sings,
Thy tribe, oh Beduin, springs
From those lost tribes of Kings,
Once Kings in Israel.

Ah me! the camp-fires gleam
Out yonder, where the sands
Fade like a lotos dream
In hollow twilight lands.
Our sail swells to the blast,
Our boat speeds far and fast,
Farewell! And to the last
Smile, waving friendly hands.

From England's storm-girt isle,
O'er seas where seagulls wail,
Rocked on the rippling Nile,
We drift with drooping sail.
On waters hushed at night,
Where stars of Egypt write
In hieroglyphs of light
Their undeciphered tale.

Forlorn sits Assouan;
Where is her boy, her pride?—
Now in the lamplit Khan,
Now by the riverside,
Or where the Soudanese,
Under mimosa trees,
Chaunt mournful melodies,
We've sought him far and wide.

Oh, desert-nurtured Child,
How dared they carry thee,
Far from thy native Wild,
Across the Western Sea?
Packed off, poor boy, at last,
With many a plaster cast
Of plinth and pillar vast,
And waxen mummies piled!

Ah! just like other ware,
For a lump sum or so
Shipped to the World's great Fair—
The big Chicago Show!
With mythic beasts and things,
Beetles and bulls with wings,
And imitation Sphinx,
Ranged row on curious row!

Beautiful, black-eyed boy;
Ah me! how strange it is
That thou, the desert's joy,
Whom heavenly winds would kiss,
With Ching and Chang-hwa ware,
Blue pots and bronzes rare,
Shouldst now be over there
Shown at Porkopolis.

Gone like a lovely dream,
Child of the starry smile;
Gone from the glowing stream
Glassing its greenest isle!
We've sought, but sought in vain;
Thou wilt not come again,
Never for bliss or pain,
Home to thy orphaned Nile.
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