Ghazal Of Isa Akhun Zada

A poem by Edward Powys Mathers

Beauty with the flame shawl, do not repulse me;
Breathing idol of rose ivory, look at me;
Beauty with the flame shawl, let me say a little thing,
Lend your small ears to my quick sighing.
Breathing idol, I have come to the walls of death;
And there are coloured cures behind the crystal of your eyes.
Life is a tale ill constructed without love.
Beauty of the flame shawl, do not repulse me;
I am at your door wasted and white and dying.
Breathing idol of rose ivory, look at me;
Beauty with the flame shawl, do not repulse me.

This is the salaam that slaves make, and after the salaam
Listen to these quick sighings and their wisdom.
All the world has spied on us and seen our love,
And in four days or five days will be whispering evil.
Knot your robes in a turban, escape and be mine for ever;
Beauty with the flame shawl, do not repulse me.
After that we will both of us go to prison.
Breathing idol of rose ivory, look at me;
Beauty with the flame shawl, do not repulse me.

My quick sighings carry a tender promise;
I will have time to remember in the battle,
Though all the world is a thousand whistling swords against me.
The iron is still in the rock that shall forge my death-sword,
Though I have foes more than the stars
Of a thousand valley starlights.
Breathing idol of rose ivory, look at me;
Beauty with the flame shawl, do not repulse me.

I am as strong as Sikander, I am as strong as death;
You will hear me come with guns brooding behind me,
And laughing bloody battalions following after.
Isa Gal is stronger than God;
Do not whip me, do not whip me,
Beauty with the flame shawl, do not repulse me;
Breathing idol of rose ivory, look at me.
Breathing idol of rose ivory, look at me;
Beauty with the flame shawl, do not repulse me.

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

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