The Asra

Every day so lovely, shining,
up and down, the Sultan’s daughter
walked at evening by the water,
where the white fountain splashes.

Every day the young slave stood
by the water, in the evening,
where the white fountain splashes,
each day growing pale and paler.

Then the princess came one evening,
quickly speaking to him, softly,
‘Your true name – I wish to know it,
your true homeland and your nation.’

And the slave said, ‘I am called
Mahomet, I am from Yemen,
and my tribe, it is the Asra,
who die, when they love.’

by Heinrich Heine

Comments (2)

'Every day so lovely, shining, up and down, the Sultan’s daughter walked at evening by the water, where the white fountain splashes.' the walk of life, love, or a beautiful walk by the water, 'the Sultan’s daughter' is the object of the gaze, the beloved; the slave is dying in not slavery but love
The character of Asra in Penelope Fitzgerald's novel Human Voices is based on this poem.