April 8, 2016

Scheherazade, The First Night

        April is National Poetry Month (besides which, every month is a good month for poetry), so here’s a poem I wrote years ago - decades ago! - about Scheherazade.

Give wings to my tongue; my words must rise like flame,
Shine with the blinding light of fire, and weave
Themselves in purling mysteries like smoke.
Necessity is courage; I must be brave.

His filigree of wealth and power, gold
With fresh young pearls; batik,
Brocades, and hangings rich and red
Adorn my sultan's cruelty of fear.

Fear takes my sister for another rose
Cut to adorn his palace in her death.
My tales are tokens of our life prolonged;
Am I light-tongued enough to steal his love?

Love can be treacherous, but vanity
Consumes betrayal and grows.  Where threats and pleas
Swell selfishness with confidence in might,
I'll lure it from itself with wandering wit.

Wit is a woman's weapon, like a veil,
Embroidered thick to hide the face behind.
Show him your eyes before he sees your lips
And he'll believe there's something you can give.

Give wings to my tongue; my words must rise like flame,
Shine with the blinding light of fire, and weave
Themselves in purling mystery, like smoke.
Necessity is courage; I will be brave.

[Picture: The Thousand-and-Second Tale of Scheherazade, wood engraving by Fritz Eichenberg for Tales of Edgar Allan Poe, 1944 (Image from Brier Hill Gallery).]
Poem: Scheherazade, The First Night by AEGN, previously published in Mobius, The Poetry Magazine, Vol 10 Nr 1, 1996.

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