Ballade Of Muhammad Din Tilai

A poem by Edward Powys Mathers

A twist of fresh flowers on your dark hair,
And your hair is a panther's shadow.
On your white cheeks the down of a thousand roses,
They speak about your beauty in Lahore.
You have your mother's lips;
Your ring is frosted with rubies,
And your hair is a panther's shadow.

Your ring is frosted with rubies;
I was unhappy and you looked over the wall,
I saw your face among the crimson lilies;
There is no armour that a lover can buy,
And your hair is a panther's shadow.

"The cool fingers of the mistress burn her lovers
And they go away.
I have fatigued the wise of many lands,
And my hair is a tangle of serpents.
What is the profit of these shawls without you?
And my hair is a panther's shadow."

"A squadron of my father's men are about me,
And I have woven a collar of yellow flowers.
My eyes are veiled because I drink cups of bhang,
Being a daughter of the daughter of queens.
You cannot touch me because of my palaces,
And my hair is a panther's shadow."

I will touch you, though your beauty be as fair as song;
For I am a disciple of Abdel Qadir Gilani,
And my songs are as beautiful as women and as strong as love;
And your hair is a panther's shadow.

Your ring is frosted with rubies....
Muhammad Din awaits the parting of your scarves;
Tilai is standing here, young and magnificent like a tree;
And your hair is a panther's shadow.

From the Pus'hto (Afghans, nineteenth century).

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