From The Arabic

How to imitate the words of Shelley
when he is imitating those of others?
I’ll try to share with fire in my belly
his heat, without the smoke that often smothers.

My spirit panted like a dog at noon
for my hind that hid beyond the brooks;
because she fled away from me I swoon
and seek for consolation in my books.

I turn the pages lying between covers
for signs of comfort that some poets bring
to those like me who wish they could be lovers,
but like canaries who are mined can’t sing.

I battle in the darkness to outspeed
my hind, and find her stretched beside the streams
where both of us have waded, paying heed
to tender thoughts entwining us like dreams.

Inspired by Shelley’s “From the Arabic, An Imitation”

MY faint spirit was sitting in the light
Of thy looks, my love;
It panted for thee like the hind at noon
For the brooks, my love.
Thy barb, whose hoofs outspeed the tempest's flight,
Bore thee far from me;
My heart, for my weak feet were weary soon,
Did companion thee.

Ah! fleeter far than fleetest storm or steed,
Or the death they bear,
The heart which tender thought clothes like a dove
With the wings of care;
In the battle, in the darkness, in the need,
Shall mine cling to thee,
Nor claim one smile for all the comfort, love,
It may bring to thee.

by gershon hepner

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