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They say to me: “Do describe it (from The Wine Ode (al-Khamriyah))

They say to me: “Do describe it,
     for you know its character well!”
          Indeed, I have word
     of its attributes:

Purity not water,
     subtlety not air,
          light but not fire,
     spirit without body,

Lovely features guiding
     those describing it to praise;
          how find their prose and poetry
     on wine.

One who never knew it
     is moved by its memory,
          just as one longing for Nu’m
     is stirred when she is recalled.

But they said: “You’ve drunk sin!”
     No, indeed, I drank only
          that whose abstention
     is sin to me.

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