E. E. Cummings

The Emperor

I. the emperor sleeps in a palace of porphyry which was a million years building he takes the air in a howdah of jasper beneath saffron umbrellas upon an elephant twelve foot high behind whose ear sits always a crowned king twir- ling an ankus of ebony the fountains of the emperor’s palace run sunlight and moonlight and the emperor’s elephant is a thousand years old the harem of the emperor is carpeted with gold cloth from the ceiling(one diamond timid with nesting incense) fifty marble pillars slipped from immeasurable height,fall,fifty,silent in the incense is tangled a cool moon there are thrice-three-hundred doors carven of chalcedony and before every door a naked eunuch watches on their heads turbans of a hundred colours in their hands scimitars like windy torches each is blacker than oblivion the ladies of the emperor’s harem are queens of all the earth and the rings upon their hands are from mines a mile deep but the body of the queen of queens is more transparent than water,she is softer than birds 2. when the emperor is very amorous he reclines upon the couch of couches and beckons     with the little finger of his left hand then the thrice-three-hundredth door is opened by the tallest eunuch and the queen of queens comes forth ankles musical with large pearls kingdoms in her ears at the feet of the emperor a cithern- player squats with quiveringgold body behind the emperor ten elected warriors with bodies of lazy jade and twitching eyelids finger their unquiet spears the queen of queens is dancing her subtle body weaving insinuating upon the gold cloth incessantly creates patterns of sudden lust her stealing body ex- pending gathering pouring upon itself     stiffenS to a white thorn of desire the taut neck of the citharede wags in the dust the ghastly warriors amber with lust breathe together      the emperor,exerting himself among his pillows throws jewels at the queen of queens and white money upon her nakedness he nods and all depart through the bruised air aflutter with pearls 3. they are alone he beckons,she rises she stands a moment in the passion of the fifty pillars listening while the queens of all the earth writhe upon deep rugs

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