It’s a blonde that I have always longed for,
but love is not maths, to be sure,
a matter of chance not a matter of course,
of paths in life that happen to cross.
It might be a redhead or one sloe-eyed
that you’ll be attached to all your life.
Shiraz, but its alias is Syrah,
she has a weapon she need not fire,
it’s enough she gives a laugh well-bred,
and at once we’re lying in a pool of red.

Her ancestry was not all that nice,
there were some Frenchies in that cru.
Though many thought and still do,
– it’s a view that we shared, too –
that she was born in mythic Persis.
Since that’s home to Shiraz of old,
an eastern magnet for the tourist fold,
a Shiite state, Iran that frights,
alluring beasts, shimmering lights,
but the facts belie this fancy’s flights.

The dark-haired girl didn’t come from there,
a Koran in her hand never did she bear,
no chador on her head, nor a burqa ever,
or hold out a palm to be oiled, never,
neither meat was she ever forbidden to eat,
nor were her Easter palms ever blessed.
No, she’s a true, ebullient Frenchie,
a mam’zelle but also a madam, truly,
who’d never dream of rising early,
at ten of a morning she’s abed still,
if someone has bedded her – or will. 

She isn’t Persian, but French to the core,
yet a thousand and one nights in every pore,
where from, how come, where did she go,
we shall, however, never really know.

Whence comes her skin’s tone, so downy,
the contours of her face and body?
Whence come the taste and flavour
of her lips that we savour,
turning the vaulted chamber of night
into a world aglow with light.

By the time I came to know her
she had already become Magyar,
at home amid Kisharsány’s vines.
Roaming thereabouts, I felt quite down,
she called after me: is it hard on your own?
She put her arm in mine, with you I’ll go,
kissed me full on the lips, I’ll be yours to know.
Or rather, I clung tight to her side
and asked her to be forever mine.
Love at first sip:
can there be any other courtship?
Face agleam, eyes glowing with love,
beneath us devils, angels above,
just us two, as we roam
and croon around our hillside home.

Syrah, Shiraz,
without you the world
nothing has,
empty are my days,
empty my nights,
dry is my dinner,
cold my supper.

Syrah, Shiraz,
fever floods me
to the tip of my toes,
my eyes and my heart
blaze out like coals,
a strange feeling
makes me tremble,
this is the wine to
make me tumble
out of bed ­– and into life.

Is this love,
or something else?
Syrah, Shiraz,
o dark-haired girl,
if you are queen,
I'll be your king.
You give food spice,
reinforce life,
I don’t know how
I could’ve lived so long
without you now.
You say: now I’m out and about,
there are things I should do,
something of account,
or maybe quite cuckoo.

It’s you that I need,
nothing else I’ll heed,
a world without you’s none,
a world with you the only one.
My heart is your hearth,
so you’ll never freeze,
in winter’s cold my body
will be at body heat.
Be with me always, please.

English translation © Peter Sherwood 2019