When We Read the Rubáiyát by Helen Rowland

When we read the Rubáiyát,
Lounging on a bed of myrtle; —
You with low, tip-tilted hat
And the pansies in your kirtle —
Just a book of verses there,
Underneath that swinging bough—
We were but a foolish pair,—
“I and thou”!

‘T is a page with danger fraught,
Omar’s leaf of rose-hued fancies.
‘Neath its spell, what hearts are caught
In a mesh of maiden glances!
Had the book been aught but that,
Would we e’er have pledged that vow,
Sworn upon the Rubáiyát,
‘Neath the bough? While you lisped of “thee and me,”
In old Omar’s silvered phrases,
‘Neath your hat I peeped to see,
Bound you with a chain of daisies,
Toyëd with your rumpled glove,
Pinned a rose above your brow; —
Thus we quaffed the wine of love,
I and thou.

Under Omar’s subtle spell,
With the bird of Time a-winging,
What a world our eyes did tell
Of our thoughts so madly singing;
Yours with lids pressed shyly down,
While, with all a lover’s art,
Mine, beneath the lash of brown,
Sought your heart.

“Fools! ‘t is neither there nor here,
Your reward!” Thus sang the poet
In those rhythms sweetly clear.
Said our eyes: “Do we not know it?
What reward do we desire
But to sit beneath this tree
And to read with hearts afire
‘Thee and me’!”

Slyly then, I crept more close: —
You of course read on unknowing,
Though the wine of Omar’s rose
Just below your hat was glowing.
When at last I caught your hand
‘Neath the book. Dear, tell me how
Did we subtly understand,
I and thou?

Was the wine of Omar’s verse
In our blood, within that hour,
That, forgetful of life’s curse,
We should quaff the cup and flower,
Till in Paradise we sat
(Ah, to be as happy now!),
While we read the Rubáiyát,
I and thou!

From: Rowland, Helen, “When We Read the Rubáiyát” in The Critic; an illustrated monthly review of literature, art, and life, n.s. v. 43 1905 Jan-Jun, pp. 356-357.
(http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015011422816;view=1up;seq=370)
(http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015011422816;view=1up;seq=371)

Date: 1905

By: Helen Rowland (1875-1950)

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