Arabia Felix

by Hervey Allen

Hervey Allen

Arabia Felix is its lovely name,
A sound wherewith to woo,
Where the spent traveler came,
Farther than Khatmandu
It lay, deep in the shifting sands,
In the hot heart of wind-worn hills
Among the desert lands.

There was the lake,
The grove of tamarisks,
And the sole tree
The nesting Phoenix knew,
Thither came merchants down from Tartary
And bearded men from far off Xanadu,
Knowing the road about the mountain-steep,
Where the old Sea-Murg lived among the trees,
And the White Thirty Birds beloved of God,
Which no man sees.

No man can come there,
Save he know
The river road through thunder-smitten passes,
Where the small caravans can go,
Led by the little road-wise, belled she-asses,
Bearing seed-pearls and sesam winnowed fine,
Henna and hashish for the dancing girls,
And turquoise-matrix from the Soldan's mine,
And sweet palm wine.

There is a story told, how long ago,
A traveler found it in the desert hills,
Wandering half mad with thirst till he drank sand,
Then suddenly he heard the sound of rills,
And saw green grass,
And valley land,
Where living waters ran,
And there the city stood beside its lake,
And the grim warders let him pass,
For pity's sake,
Into the town as fine as Ispahan.

Now he can talk of nothing but that place;
He must be daft,
On desert nights beside the dried-dung fires,
When dreams of youth come back and old desires,
But no one yet has laughed,
For only truth is spoken by his race,
And he can talk of nothing but that place
And of a girl there with a houri's face.
" It is beloved by heaven, " so he says,
" It's stars burn nearer to the earth,
And low-voiced merchants chaffer in its cool bazaars
Amid sane mirth —
It is the domed town of the heat mirage,
Close to the heart of God,
Where dwells Laladj. "

Last updated September 05, 2017