Stand whoso list upon the slipper top
   Of court’s estates, and let me here rejoice;
And use me quiet without let or stop,
   Unknown in court, that hath such brackish joys:
      In hidden place, so let my days forth pass,
   That when my years be done, withouten noise,
      I may die agèd after the common trace,
For him death gripeth right hard by the crope
   That is much known of other; and of himself alas,
   Doth die unknown, dazed with dreadful face.
– Thomas Wyatt. Stand Whoso List



But first the screened mirror, all I knew of water!
Imagine “the thirstquenching virtue of water.”

Who “kept on building castles” “Upon a certain rock”
“Glacial warden over ‘dreams come true’” of water?

Of course, I saw Chile in my rearview mirror,
it’s disappeared under a curfew of water.

Hagar, in shards, reflects her shattered Ishmael.
Call her the desert Muslim—or Jew—of water.

God, Wordless, beheld the pulled rain but missed the held sun …
The Rainbow—that Arrow!—Satan’s coup of water.

Don’t beckon me, Love, to the island of your words—
You yourself reached it, erasing my view of water.

Her star-cold palanquin goes with the caravan.
Majnoon, now she’ll be news—out of the blue—of water.

When the Beast takes off his mask, Love, let it be you
sweetening Tomorrow Doom’s taboo of water.

No need to stop the ears to the Sirens’ rhetoric;
just mock their rock-theme, O skeleton crew of water.

Are your streets, O Abraham, washed of “the Sons of Stones”?
Sand was all Ishmael once drew of water.

I have signed, O my enemy, your death-warrant.
I won’t know in time I am like you of water.

For God’s sake don’t unveil the Black Stone of Ka‘ba.
What if Faith too’s let love bead a dew of water?

I have even become tears to live in your eyes.
If you weep, Stark Lover, for my breakthrough of water?

Shahid’s junk mail has surfaced in a dead letter office.
He’s deluxed in the leather Who’s Who of Water.

– Agha Shahid Ali