The Bedouin - Frederick Engels

The Bedouin by Frederick Engels

The Bedouin [1]

Written: in the first half of September 1838
First published: in the Bremisches Conversationsblatt No. 40, Sept. 16, 1838;
Source: MECW Volume 2;
Transcribed: Andy Blunden;

Now the bell rings, and suddenly
The silken curtain swift ascends.
And all in hushed expectancy
Wait for the evening to commence.

No Kotzebue commands the scene
To set the merry audience roaring.
No Schiller of the earnest mien
Steps forth, his golden words outpouring.

Sons of the desert, proud and free,
Walk on to greet us, face to face;
But pride is vanished utterly,
And freedom lost without a trace.

They jump at money’s beck and call
(As once that lad from dune to dune
Bounded for joy). They're silent, all,
Save one who sings a dirge-like tune.

The audience, amazed and awed
By what these acrobats can do,
Applauds them, just as it applauds
The trumperies of Kotzebue.

Fleet nomads of the desert lands,
You've braved the sun’s fierce noontide rays
Through harsh Morocco’s burning sands,
Through valleys where the date-palms sway.

And through the garden paradise
Of Bled-el-Djerid once you swept.
You turned your wits to bold forays.
Your steeds to battle proudly stepped.

You sat there, where moon lustres spill
By rare springs in a palm-tree grove,
And lovely lips with gracious skill
A fairy-story garland wove.

Sleeping in narrow tents you lay
In love’s warm arms, with dreams all round,
Till sunrise ushered in the day
And camels made their bellowing sound.

They jump at money’s beck and call,
And not at Nature’s primal urge.
Their eyes are blank, they're silent, all,
Except for one who sings a dirge.