Cafes in Damascus

Letitia Elizabeth Landon

"And Mahomet turned aside, and would not enter the fair city: lll is, said he, 'too delicious.'"

Languidly the night wind bloweth
From the gardens round,
Where the clear Barrada floweth
With a lulling sound.

Not the lute note's sweetest shiver
Can such music find,
As is on a wandering river,
On a wandering wind.

There the Moslem leaneth, dreaming
O'er the inward world,
While around the fragrant steaming
Of the smoke is curl'd.

Rising from the coffee berry,
Dark grape of the South;
Or the pipe of polish'd cherry,
With its amber mouth.

Cool'd by passing through the water,
Gurgling as it flows—
Scented by the Summer's daughter,
June's impassion'd rose.

By that Rose's spirit haunted
Are the dreams that rise,
Of far lands, and lives enchanted,
And of deep black eyes.

Thus, with some sweet dream's assistance,
Float they down life's stream;
Would to Heaven, our whole existence
Could be such a dream!

Author's Note: The cafes are perhaps the greatest luxury that a stranger finds in Damascus. Gardens, kiosques fountains, and groves are abundant around every Eastern capital; but cafes on the very bosom of a rapid river, and bathed by its waves, are peculiar to this ancient city: they are formed so as to exclude the rays of the sun while they admit the breeze.