THE GOLDEN JOURNEY TO SAMARKAND PROLOGUE


We who with songs beguile your pilgrimage
And swear that Beauty lives though lilies die,
We Poets of the proud old lineage
Who sing to find your hearts, we know not why, -
What shall we tell you? Tales, marvellous tales
Of ships and stars and isles where good men rest,
Where nevermore the rose of sunset pales,
And winds and shadows fall towards the West:
And there the world's first huge white-bearded kings
In dim glades sleeping, murmur in their sleep,
And closer round their breasts the ivy clings,
Cutting its pathway slow and red and deep. <


THE GOLDEN JOURNEY TO SAMARKAND
EPILOGUE


At the Gate of the Sun, Bagdad, in olden time


THE MERCHANTS :
Away, for we are ready to a man!
Our camels sniff the evening and are glad.
Lead on, O Master of the Caravan:
Lead on the Merchant-Princes of Bagdad.


THE CHIEF DRAPER :
Have we not Indian carpets dark as wine,
Turbans and sashes, gowns and bows and veils,
And broideries of intricate design,
And printed hangings in enormous bales?


THE CHIEF GROCER :
We have rose-candy, we have spikenard,
Mastic and terebinth and oil and spice,
And such sweet jams meticulously jarred
As God's own Prophet eats in Paradise.


THE PRINCIPAL JEWS :
And we have manuscripts in peacock styles
By Ali of Damascus; we have swords
Engraved with storks and apes and crocodiles,
And heavy beaten necklaces, for Lords.


THE MASTER OF THE CARAVAN :
But you are nothing but a lot of Jews.

THE PRINCIPAL JEWS :
Sir, even dogs have daylight, and we pay.

THE MASTER OF THE CARAVAN :
But who are ye in rags and rotten shoes,
You dirty-bearded, blocking up the way?


THE PILGRIMS :
We are the Pilgrims, master; we shall go
Always a little further: it may be
Beyond the last blue mountain barred with snow,
Across that angry or that glimmering sea,
White on a throne or guarded in a cave
There lives a prophet who can understand
Why men were born: but surely we are brave,
Who make the Golden Journey to Samarkand.


THE CHIEF MERCHANT :
We gnaw the nail of hurry. Master, away!

ONE OF THE WOMEN :
O turn your eyes to where your children stand.
Is not Bagdad the beautiful? O stay!

THE MERCHANTS in chorus :
We take the Golden Road to Samarkand.


AN OLD MAN :
Have you not girls and garlands in your homes,
Eunuchs and Syrian boys at your command?
Seek not excess: God hateth him who roams!

THE MERCHANTS :
We make the Golden Journey to Samarkand.


A PILGRIM WITH A BEAUTIFUL VOICE :
Sweet to ride forth at evening from the wells
When shadows pass gigantic on the sand,
And softly through the silence beat the bells
Along the Golden Road to Samarkand.


A MERCHANT :
We travel not for trafficking alone:
By hotter winds our fiery hearts are fanned:
For lust of knowing what should not be known
We make the Golden Journey to Samarkand.


THE MASTER OF THE CARAVAN :
Open the gate, O watchman of the night!

THE WATCHMAN :
Ho, travellers, I open. For what land
Leave you the dim-moon city of delight?


THE MERCHANTS with a shout
We make the Golden Journey to Samarkand.


The Caravan passes through the gate

THE WATCHMAN consoling the women
What would ye, ladies? It was ever thus.
Men are unwise and curiously planned.

A WOMAN :
They have their dreams, and do not think of us.

VOICES OF THE CARAVAN : in the distance, singing
We make the Golden Journey to Samarkand.


James Elroy FLECKER 1884-1915 home