In Rûm there lived a gentle man,
as sweet as honey, pure and kind.
All virtues men should have, he owned,
and all his worth by goodness crowned.
In virtue and in wisdom, he
preferred to practise chastity.
‘Bishr the abstinent’ his name
among his fellows—well-earned fame!
He strolled, for pleasure’s sake, one day
along the smooth and level way.
Love launched a Turkish raid on him;
temptation set his wits aspin.
A moon-like figure, darkly veiled
in cloud-like silks, his heart assailed.
Heeding him not, she passed him by;
just then a quick breeze stole away
Her veil; the breeze, temptation’s guide,
that moon through its black clouds displayed.
When Bishr saw this his legs grew weak;
the straight-shot arrow found its mark.
That form, with its seductive charms,
would cast all chaste vows to the wind:
A heap of roses, cypress-straight,
her face both fair and ruddy bright;
Her languorous, bewitching glance
stole sleep from all whom it entranced.
Her lips were like the dewy rose,
whose petals nectar sweet enclose.
Her eyes, two languid lilies, held
temptation in their drowsy spell.