The following are excerpts from the book titled Poems of Arabia by Elise Kellett which was published in 1989. The foreword reads:
This small collection of verses was written as a poetic diary of my thoughts and impressions, influenced by my life and travel within Saudi Arabia during the past eight years (circa 1980s), intending, hopefully, for them to be handed on to my three granddaughters - Emma Louise, Sarah Jane and Lisa Maria - in the fullness of time.
Patty Squires, my friend, read them and suggested they be published for the benefit of the many other people who have lived and worked in Saudi Arabia, to whom perhaps the poems in some future years will bring to mind a treasured memory of pleasant thoughts and recollections of their days spent in the Middle East.
I am deeply grateful to Patty for the idea and for her enormous energy and skills in preparing the draft suitable for publishing from my scribbled notes; and for my husband, Cliff, and Patty's husband, Mark, whose words were always of encouragement and who have always been in full support of our efforts.
I dedicate the poems to my two sons and their wives - Mike and Lynette, Paul and Maria - in order they may be handed on to our granddaughters to remind them in the future of their grandparent's fond memories of Saudi Arabia.
Do Not Change Us
We have ridden these deserts before you came.
We shall ride them when you've gone.
Our trucks, mere chattels we can survive
Where water there is none.
The old worn ways now covered o'er
Shall once more soon be found.
And camels shall take the long trail
Over Saudi hallow'd ground.
The golden sand our carpet fine
Black bait shaar give us shade,
Fresh milk from camels, and sweet dates,
These comforts ne'er shall fade.
So do not fear our future -
We know the ways of old.
The oil has changed our lifestyle
But the old ways are the gold.
Rich men still drive their Cadillacs
And dream of desert days,
For only there is stillness,
And escape from modern ways.
Little brown desert bird, sits on a stone.
Comes to my garden, when I am all alone.
Sings to the yellow bells,
Eats up the crumbs,
Little brown desert bird
From where do you come?
Beyond is the desert, outside my walls,
Nowhere to fly to, when eventide falls.
So stay in my garden, and eat of your fill
Little brown desert bird, stay as you will.
Friend is saddiqui,
Mafi is no,
Shukran is thank you,
La means, oh no!
Shway shway is easy,
Or possibly slow,
The Arabic language
Is so hard to know.
I can't pronounce welcome,
My brain is too slow.
Some more words I'll know.
There's a beautiful phrase coined years ago,
By Arab Bedouin free.
It says, quite simply, to questions asked,
"La lestu adrie."
"Where do you come from?" the stranger asks,
"Do stars in the sky move free?"
The Bedouin smiles and shakes his head,
And says, "Lestu adrie."
I miss you when the frangipani
breaks the spell of winter.
As I fill a bowl of flowers
of pink and saffron hue.
I miss you when the sunshine
paints rainbows on the dewdrops.
To match my lonely tears
when I'm away from you.
I miss you in the evening,
when twilight falls like velvet,
As the desert silence
drapes her blanket o'er the sea.
I miss you when the dhows
pull away from shore each morning.
I miss you so, my darling,
when you are gone from me.