INDIA'S LOVE LYRICS
By Laurence Hope
Editorial note: Laurence Hope was the pen name of Adela Florence Cory Nicolson. Born in 1865, she was educated in England. At age 16 she joined her father in India, where she spent most of her adult life. In 1889 she married Col. Malcolm H. Nicolson, a man twice her age. She committed suicide two months after his death in 1904.
"Less than the Dust"
Less than the dust, beneath thy Chariot wheel, Less than the rust, that never stained thy Sword, Less than the trust thou hast in me, O Lord, Even less than these!
Less than the weed, that grows beside thy door, Less than the speed of hours spent far from thee, Less than the need thou hast in life of me. Even less am I.
Since I, O Lord, am nothing unto thee, See here thy Sword, I make it keen and bright, Love's last reward, Death, comes to me to-night, Farewell, Zahir-u-din.
"To the Unattainable"
Oh, that my blood were water, thou athirst, And thou and I in some far Desert land, How would I shed it gladly, if but first It touched thy lips, before it reached the sand.
Once,—Ah, the Gods were good to me,—I threw Myself upon a poison snake, that crept Where my Beloved—a lesser love we knew Than this which now consumes me wholly—slept.
But thou; Alas, what can I do for thee? By Fate, and thine own beauty, set above The need of all or any aid from me, Too high for service, as too far for love.
"In the Early, Pearly Morning":
Song by Valgovind
The fields are full of Poppies, and the skies are very blue, By the Temple in the coppice, I wait, Beloved, for you. The level land is sunny, and the errant air is gay, With scent of rose and honey; will you come to me to-day?
From carven walls above me, smile lovers; many a pair. "Oh, take this rose and love me!" she has twined it in her hair. He advances, she retreating, pursues and holds her fast, The sculptor left them meeting, in a close embrace at last.
Through centuries together, in the carven stone they lie, In the glow of golden weather, and endless azure sky. Oh, that we, who have for pleasure so short and scant a stay, Should waste our summer leisure; will you come to me to-day?
The Temple bells are ringing, for the marriage month has come. I hear the women singing, and the throbbing of the drum. And when the song is failing, or the drums a moment mute, The weirdly wistful wailing of the melancholy flute.
Little life has got to offer, and little man to lose, Since to-day Fate deigns to proffer, Oh wherefore, then, refuse To take this transient hour, in the dusky Temple gloom While the poppies are in flower, and the mangoe trees abloom.
And if Fate remember later, and come to claim her due, What sorrow will be greater than the Joy I had with you? For to-day, lit by your laughter, between the crushing years, I will chance, in the hereafter, eternities of tears.
Reverie of Mahomed Akram at the Tamarind Tank
The Desert is parched in the burning sun And the grass is scorched and white. But the sand is passed, and the march is done, We are camping here to-night. I sit in the shade of the Temple walls, While the cadenced water evenly falls, And a peacock out of the Jungle calls To another, on yonder tomb. Above, half seen, in the lofty gloom, Strange works of a long dead people loom, Obscene and savage and half effaced— An elephant hunt, a musicians' feast— And curious matings of man and beast; What did they mean to the men who are long since dust? Whose fingers traced, In this arid waste, These rioting, twisted, figures of love and lust.
Strange, weird things that no man may say, Things Humanity hides away;— Secretly done,— Catch the light of the living day, Smile in the sun. Cruel things that man may not name, Naked here, without fear or shame, Laughed in the carven stone.
Deep in the Temple's innermost Shrine is set, Where the bats and shadows dwell, The worn and ancient Symbol of Life, at rest In its oval shell, By which the men, who, of old, the land possessed, Represented their Great Destroying Power. I cannot forget That, just as my life was touching its fullest flower, Love came and destroyed it all in a single hour, Therefore the dual Mystery suits me well.
Sitting alone, The tank's deep water is cool and sweet, Soothing and fresh to the wayworn feet, Dreaming, under the Tamarind shade, One silently thanks the men who made So green a place in this bitter land Of sunburnt sand.
The peacocks scream and the grey Doves coo, Little green, talkative Parrots woo, And small grey Squirrels, with fear askance, At alien me, in their furtive glance, Come shyly, with quivering fur, to see The stranger under their Tamarind tree. Daylight dies, The Camp fires redden like angry eyes, The Tents show white, In the glimmering light, Spirals of tremulous smoke arise, to the purple skies, And the hum of the Camp sounds like the sea, Drifting over the sand to me. Afar, in the Desert some wild voice sings To a jangling zither with minor strings, And, under the stars growing keen above, I think of the thing that I love.
A beautiful thing, alert, serene, With passionate, dreaming, wistful eyes, Dark and deep as mysterious skies, Seen from a vessel at sea. Alas, you drifted away from me, And Time and Space have rushed in between, But they cannot undo the Thing-that-has-been, Though it never again may be. You were mine, from dusk until dawning light, For the perfect whole of that bygone night You belonged to me!
They say that Love is a light thing, A foolish thing and a slight thing, A ripe fruit, rotten at core; They speak in this futile fashion To me, who am wracked with passion, Tormented beyond compassion, For ever and ever more.
They say that Possession lessens a lover's delight, As radiant mornings fade into afternoon. I held what I loved in my arms for many a night, Yet ever the morning lightened the sky too soon.
Beyond our tents the sands stretch level and far, Around this little oasis of Tamarind trees. A curious, Eastern fragrance fills the breeze From the ruinous Temple garden where roses are.
I dream of the rose-like perfume that fills your hair, Of times when my lips were free of your soft closed eyes, While down in the tank the waters ripple and rise And the flying foxes silently cleave the air.
The present is subtly welded into the past, My love of you with the purple Indian dusk, With its clinging scent of sandal incense and musk, And withering jasmin flowers. My eyes grow dim and my senses fail at last, While the lonely hours Follow each other, silently, one by one, Till the night is almost done.
Then weary, and drunk with dreams, with my garments damp And heavy with dew, I wander towards the camp. Tired, with a brain in which fancy and fact are blent, I stumble across the ropes till I reach my tent And then to rest. To ensweeten my sleep with lies, To dream I lie in the light of your long lost eyes, My lips set free. To love and linger over your soft loose hair— To dream I lay your delicate beauty bare To solace my fevered eyes. Ah,—if my life might end in a night like this— Drift into death from dreams of your granted kiss!
You are my God, and I would fain adore You With sweet and secret rites of other days. Burn scented oil in silver lamps before You, Pour perfume on Your feet with prayer and praise.
Yet are we one; Your gracious condescension Granted, and grants, the loveliness I crave. One, in the perfect sense of Eastern mention, "Gold and the Bracelet, Water and the Wave."
Song of Khan Zada
As one may sip a Stranger's Bowl You gave yourself but not your soul. I wonder, now that time has passed, Where you will come to rest at last.
You gave your beauty for an hour, I held it gently as a flower. You wished to leave me, told me so,— I kissed your feet and let you go.
The Teak Forest
Whether I loved you who shall say? Whether I drifted down your way In the endless River of Chance and Change, And you woke the strange Unknown longings that have no names, But burn us all in their hidden flames, Who shall say?
Life is a strange and a wayward thing: We heard the bells of the Temples ring, The married children, in passing, sing. The month of marriage, the month of spring, Was full of the breath of sunburnt flowers That bloom in a fiercer light than ours, And, under a sky more fiercely blue, I came to you!
You told me tales of your vivid life Where death was cruel and danger rife— Of deep dark forests, of poisoned trees, Of pains and passions that scorch and freeze, Of southern noontides and eastern nights, Where love grew frantic with strange delights, While men were slaying and maidens danced, Till I, who listened, lay still, entranced. Then, swift as a swallow heading south, I kissed your mouth!
One night when the plains were bathed in blood From sunset light in a crimson flood, We wandered under the young teak trees Whose branches whined in the light night breeze; You led me down to the water's brink, "The Spring where the Panthers come to drink At night; there is always water here Be the season never so parched and sere." Have we souls of beasts in the forms of men? I fain would have tasted your life-blood then.
The night fell swiftly; this sudden land Can never lend us a twilight strand 'Twixt the daylight shore and the ocean night, But takes—as it gives—at once, the light. We laid us down on the steep hillside, While far below us wild peacocks cried, And we sometimes heard, in the sunburnt grass, The stealthy steps of the Jungle pass. We listened; knew not whether they went On love or hunger the more intent. And under your kisses I hardly knew Whether I loved or hated you.
But your words were flame and your kisses fire, And who shall resist a strong desire? Not I, whose life is a broken boat On a sea of passions, adrift, afloat. And, whether I came in love or hate, That I came to you was written by Fate In every hue of the blood-red sky, In every tone of the peacocks' cry.
While every gust of the Jungle night Was fanning the flame you had set alight. For these things have power to stir the blood And compel us all to their own chance mood. And to love or not we are no more free Than a ripple to rise and leave the sea.
We are ever and always slaves of these, Of the suns that scorch and the winds that freeze, Of the faint sweet scents of the sultry air, Of the half heard howl from the far off lair. These chance things master us ever. Compel To the heights of Heaven, the depths of Hell.
Whether I love you? You do not ask, Nor waste yourself on the thankless task. I give your kisses at least return, What matter whether they freeze or burn. I feel the strength of your fervent arms, What matter whether it heals or harms.
You are wise; you take what the Gods have sent. You ask no question, but rest content So I am with you to take your kiss, And perhaps I value you more for this. For this is Wisdom; to love, to live, To take what Fate, or the Gods, may give, To ask no question, to make no prayer, To kiss the lips and caress the hair, Speed passion's ebb as you greet its flow,— To have,—to hold,—and,—in time,—let go!
And this is our Wisdom: we rest together On the great lone hills in the storm-filled weather, And watch the skies as they pale and burn, The golden stars in their orbits turn, While Love is with us, and Time and Peace, And life has nothing to give but these. But, whether you love me, who shall say, Or whether you, drifting down my way In the great sad River of Chance and Change, With your looks so weary and words so strange, Lit my soul from some hidden flame To a passionate longing without a name, Who shall say? Not I, who am but a broken boat, Content for a while to drift afloat In the little noontide of love's delights Between two Nights.
Valgovind's Boat Song
Waters glisten and sunbeams quiver, The wind blows fresh and free. Take my boat to your breast, O River! Carry me out to Sea!
This land is laden with fruit and grain, With never a place left free for flowers, A fruitful mother; but I am fain For brides in their early bridal hours.
Take my boat to your breast, O River! Carry me out to Sea!
The Sea, beloved by a thousand ships, Is maiden ever, and fresh and free. Ah, for the touch of her cool green lips, Carry me out to Sea!
Take my boat to your breast, dear River, And carry it out to Sea!
Kashmiri Song by Juma
You never loved me, and yet to save me, One unforgetable night you gave me Such chill embraces as the snow-covered heights Receive from clouds, in northern, Auroral nights. Such keen communion as the frozen mere Has with immaculate moonlight, cold and clear. And all desire, Like failing fire, Died slowly, faded surely, and sank to rest Against the delicate chillness of your breast.
Zira: in Captivity
Love me a little, Lord, or let me go, I am so weary walking to and fro Through all your lonely halls that were so sweet Did they but echo to your coming feet.
When by the flowered scrolls of lace-like stone Our women's windows—I am left alone, Across the yellow Desert, looking forth, I see the purple hills towards the north.
Behind those jagged Mountains' lilac crest Once lay the captive bird's small rifled nest. There was my brother slain, my sister bound; His blood, her tears, drunk by the thirsty ground.
Then, while the burning village smoked on high, And desecrated all the peaceful sky, They took us captive, us, born frank and free, On fleet, strong camels through the sandy sea.
Yet, when we rested, night-times, on the sand By the rare waters of this dreary land, Our captors, ere the camp was wrapped in sleep, Talked, and I listened, and forgot to weep.
"Is he not brave and fair?" they asked, "our King, Slender as one tall palm-tree by a spring; Erect, serene, with gravely brilliant eyes, As deeply dark as are these desert skies.
"Truly no bitter fate," they said, and smiled, "Awaits the beauty of this captured child!" Then something in my heart began to sing, And secretly I longed to see the King.
Sometimes the other maidens sat in tears, Sometimes, consoled, they jested at their fears, Musing what lovers Time to them would bring; But I was silent, thinking of the King.
Till, when the weary endless sands were passed, When, far to south, the city rose at last, All speech forsook me and my eyelids fell, Since I already loved my Lord so well.
Then the division: some were sent away To merchants in the city; some, they say, To summer palaces, beyond the walls. But me they took straight to the Sultan's halls.
Every morning I would wake and say "Ah, sisters, shall I see our Lord to-day?" The women robed me, perfumed me, and smiled; "When were his feet unfleet to pleasure, child?"
And tales they told me of his deeds in war, Of how his name was reverenced afar; And, crouching closer in the lamp's faint glow, They told me of his beauty, speaking low.
What need, what need? the women wasted art; I love you with every fibre of my heart Already. My God! when did I not love you, In life, in death, when shall I not love you?
You never seek me. All day long I lie Watching the changes of the far-off sky Behind the lattice-work of carven stone. And all night long, alas! I lie alone.
But you come never. Ah, my Lord the King, How can you find it well to do this thing? Come once, come only: sometimes, as I lie, I doubt if I shall see you first, or die.
Ah, could I hear your footsteps at the door Hallow the lintel and caress the floor, Then I might drink your beauty, satisfied, Die of delight, ere you could reach my side.
Alas, you come not, Lord: life's flame burns low, Faint for a loveliness it may not know, Faint for your face, Oh, come—come soon to me— Lest, though you should not, Death should, set me free!
Marriage Thoughts: by Morsellin Khan
Bridegroom I give you my house and my lands, all golden with harvest; My sword, my shield, and my jewels, the spoils of my strife, My strength and my dreams, and aught I have gathered of glory, And to-night—to-night, I shall give you my very life.
Bride I may not raise my eyes, O my Lord, towards you, And I may not speak: what matter? my voice would fail. But through my downcast lashes, feeling your beauty, I shiver and burn with pleasure beneath my veil.
Younger Sisters We throw sweet perfume upon her head, And delicate flowers round her bed. Ah, would that it were our turn to wed!
Mother I see my daughter, vaguely, through my tears, (Ah, lost caresses of my early years!) I see the bridegroom, King of men in truth! (Ah, my first lover, and my vanished youth!)
Bride Almost I dread this night. My senses fail me. How shall I dare to clasp a thing so dear? Many have feared your name, but I your beauty. Lord of my life, be gentle to my fear!
Younger Sisters In the softest silk is our sister dressed, With silver rubies upon her breast, Where a dearer treasure to-night will rest.
Dancing Girls See! his hair is like silk, and his teeth are whiter Than whitest of jasmin flowers. Pity they marry him thus. I would change my jewels against his caresses. Verily, sisters, this marriage is greatly a loss to us!
Bride Would that the music ceased and the night drew round us, With solitude, shadow, and sound of closing doors, So that our lips might meet and our beings mingle, While mine drank deep of the essence, beloved, of yours.
Passing mendicant Out of the joy of your marriage feast, Oh, brothers, be good to me. The way is long and the Shrine is far, Where my weary feet would be.
And feasting is always somewhat sad To those outside the door— Still; Love is only a dream, and Life Itself is hardly more!
To the Unattainable:
Lament of Mahomed Akram
I would have taken Golden Stars from the sky for your necklace, I would have shaken rose-leaves for your rest from all the rose-trees.
But you had no need; the short sweet grass sufficed for your slumber, And you took no heed of such trifles as gold or a necklace.
There is an hour, at twilight, too heavy with memory. There is a flower that I fear, for your hair had its fragrance.
I would have squandered Youth for you, and its hope and its promise, Before you wandered, careless, away from my useless passion.
But what is the use of my speech, since I know of no words to recall you? I am praying that Time may teach, you, your Cruelty, me, Forgetfulness.
Mahomed Akram's Appeal to the Stars
Oh, Silver Stars that shine on what I love, Touch the soft hair and sparkle in the eyes,— Send, from your calm serenity above, Sleep to whom, sleepless, here, despairing lies.
Broken, forlorn, upon the Desert sand That sucks these tears, and utterly abased, Looking across the lonely, level land, With thoughts more desolate than any waste.
Planets that shine on what I so adore, Now thrown, the hour is late, in careless rest, Protect that sleep, which I may watch no more, I, the cast out, dismissed and dispossessed.
Far in the hillside camp, in slumber lies What my worn eyes worship but never see. Happier Stars! your myriad silver eyes Feast on the quiet face denied to me.
Loved with a love beyond all words or sense, Lost with a grief beyond the saltest tear, So lovely, so removed, remote, and hence So doubly and so desperately dear!
Stars! from your skies so purple and so calm, That through the centuries your secrets keep, Send to this worn-out brain some Occult Balm, Send me, for many nights so sleepless, sleep.
And ere the sunshine of the Desert jars My sense with sorrow and another day, Through your soft Magic, oh, my Silver Stars! Turn sleep to Death in some mysterious way.
Reminiscence of Mahomed Akram
I shall never forget you, never. Never escape Your memory woven about the beautiful things of life.
The sudden Thought of your Face is like a Wound When it comes unsought On some scent of Jasmin, Lilies, or pale Tuberose. Any one of the sweet white fragrant flowers, Flowers I used to love and lay in your hair.
Sunset is terribly sad. I saw you stand Tall against the red and the gold like a slender palm; The light wind stirred your hair as you waved your hand, Waved farewell, as ever, serene and calm, To me, the passion-wearied and tost and torn, Riding down the road in the gathering grey. Since that day The sunset red is empty, the gold forlorn.
Often across the Banqueting board at nights Men linger about your name in careless praise The name that cuts deep into my soul like a knife; And the gay guest-faces and flowers and leaves and lights Fade away from the failing sense in a haze, And the music sways Far away in unmeasured distance.... I cannot forget— I cannot escape. What are the Stars to me? Stars that meant so much, too much, in my youth; Stars that sparkled about your eyes, Made a radiance round your hair, What are they now?
Lingering lights of a Finished Feast, Little lingering sparks rather, Of a Light that is long gone out.
Story by Lalla-ji, the Priest
He loved the Plant with a keen delight, A passionate fervour, strange to see, Tended it ardently, day and night, Yet never a flower lit up the tree.
The leaves were succulent, thick, and green, And, sessile, out of the snakelike stem Rose spine-like fingers, alert and keen, To catch at aught that molested them.
But though they nurtured it day and night, With love and labour, the child and he Were never granted the longed-for sight Of a flower crowning the twisted tree.
Until one evening a wayworn Priest Stopped for the night in the Temple shade And shared the fare of their simple feast Under the vines and the jasmin laid.
He, later, wandering round the flowers Paused awhile by the blossomless tree. The man said, "May it be fault of ours, That never its buds my eyes may see?
"Aslip it came from the further East Many a sunlit summer ago." "It grows in our Jungles," said the Priest, "Men see it rarely; but this I know,
"The Jungle people worship it; say They bury a child around its roots— Bury it living:—the only way To crimson glory of flowers and fruits."
He spoke in whispers; his furtive glance Probing the depths of the garden shade. The man came closer, with eyes askance, The child beside them shivered, afraid.
A cold wind drifted about the three, Jarring the spines with a hungry sound, The spines that grew on the snakelike tree And guarded its roots beneath the ground.
After the fall of the summer rain The plant was glorious, redly gay, Blood-red with blossom. Never again Men saw the child in the Temple play.
Give me your self one hour; I do not crave For any love, or even thought, of me. Come, as a Sultan may caress a slave And then forget for ever, utterly.
Come! as west winds, that passing, cool and wet, O'er desert places, leave them fields in flower And all my life, for I shall not forget, Will keep the fragrance of that perfect hour!
Story of Udaipore:
Told by Lalla-ji, the Priest
"And when the Summer Heat is great, And every hour intense, The Moghra, with its subtle flowers, Intoxicates the sense."
The Coco palms stood tall and slim, against the golden-glow, And all their grey and graceful plumes were waving to and fro.
She lay forgetful in the boat, and watched the dying Sun Sink slowly lakewards, while the stars replaced him, one by one.
She saw the marble Temple walls long white reflections make, The echoes of their silvery bells were blown across the lake.
The evening air was very sweet; from off the island bowers Came scents of Moghra trees in bloom, and Oleander flowers.
"The Moghra flowers that smell so sweet When love's young fancies play; The acrid Moghra flowers, still sweet Though love be burnt away."
The boat went drifting, uncontrolled, the rower rowed no more, But deftly turned the slender prow towards the further shore.
The dying sunset touched with gold the Jasmin in his hair; His eyes were darkly luminous: she looked and found him fair.
And so persuasively he spoke, she could not say him nay, And when his young hands took her own, she smiled and let them stay.
And all the youth awake in him, all love of Love in her, All scents of white and subtle flowers that filled the twilight air
Combined together with the night in kind conspiracy To do Love service, while the boat went drifting onwards, free.
"The Moghra flowers, the Moghra flowers, While Youth's quick pulses play They are so sweet, they still are sweet, Though passion burns away."
Low in the boat the lovers lay, and from his sable curls The Jasmin flowers slipped away to rest among the girl's.
Oh, silver lake and silver night and tender silver sky! Where as the hours passed, the moon rose white and cold on high.
"The Moghra flowers, the Moghra flowers, So dear to Youth at play; The small and subtle Moghra flowers That only last a day."
Suddenly, frightened, she awoke, and waking vaguely saw The boat had stranded in the sedge that fringed the further shore.
The breeze grown chilly, swayed the palms; she heard, still half awake, A prowling jackal's hungry cry blown faintly o'er the lake.
She shivered, but she turned to kiss his soft, remembered face, Lit by the pallid light he lay, in Youth's abandoned grace.
But as her lips met his she paused, in terror and dismay, The white moon showed her by her side asleep a Leper lay.
"Ah, Moghra flowers, white Moghra flowers, All love is blind, they say; The Moghra flowers, so sweet, so sweet, Though love be burnt away!"
Valgovind's Song in the Spring
The Temple bells are ringing, The young green corn is springing, And the marriage month is drawing very near.
I lie hidden in the grass, And I count the moments pass, For the month of marriages is drawing near.
Soon, ah, soon, the women spread The appointed bridal bed With hibiscus buds and crimson marriage flowers,
Where, when all the songs are done, And the dear dark night begun, I shall hold her in my happy arms for hours.
She is young and very sweet, From the silver on her feet To the silver and the flowers in her hair, And her beauty makes me swoon, As the Moghra trees at noon Intoxicate the hot and quivering air.
Ah, I would the hours were fleet As her silver circled feet, I am weary of the daytime and the night; I am weary unto death, Oh my rose with jasmin breath, With this longing for your beauty and your light.
I am not sure if I knew the truth What his case or crime might be, I only know that he pleaded Youth, A beautiful, golden plea!
Youth, with its sunlit, passionate eyes, Its roseate velvet skin— A plea to cancel a thousand lies, Or a thousand nights of sin.
The men who judged him were old and grey Their eyes and their senses dim, He brought the light of a warm Spring day To the Court-house bare and grim.
Could he plead guilty in a lovelier way? His judges acquitted him.
When Love is Over
Song of Khan Zada
Only in August my heart was aflame, Catching the scent of your Wind-stirred hair, Now, though you spread it to soften my sleep Through the night, I should hardly care.
Only last August I drank that water Because it had chanced to cool your hands; When love is over, how little of love Even the lover understands!
Oh Amber Eyes, oh Golden Eyes! Oh Eyes so softly gay! Wherein swift fancies fall and rise, Grow dark and fade away. Eyes like a little limpid pool That holds a sunset sky, While on its surface, calm and cool, Blue water lilies lie.
Oh Tender Eyes, oh Wistful Eyes, You smiled on me one day, And all my life, in glad surprise, Leapt up and pleaded "Stay!" Alas, oh cruel, starlike eyes, So grave and yet so gay, You went to lighten other skies, Smiled once and passed away.
Oh, you whom I name "Golden Eyes," Perhaps I used to know Your beauty under other skies In lives lived long ago. Perhaps I rowed with galley slaves, Whose labour never ceased, To bring across Phoenician waves Your treasure from the East.
Maybe you were an Emperor then And I a favourite slave; Some youth, whom from the lions' den You vainly tried to save! Maybe I reigned, a mighty King, The early nations knew, And you were some slight captive thing, Some maiden whom I slew.
Perhaps, adrift on desert shores Beside some shipwrecked prow, I gladly gave my life for yours. Would I might give it now! Or on some sacrificial stone Strange Gods we satisfied, Perhaps you stooped and left a throne To kiss me ere I died.
Perhaps, still further back than this, In times ere men were men, You granted me a moment's bliss In some dark desert den, When, with your amber eyes alight With iridescent flame, And fierce desire for love's delight, Towards my lair you came
Ah laughing, ever-brilliant eyes, These things men may not know, But something in your radiance lies, That, centuries ago, Lit up my life in one wild blaze Of infinite desire To revel in your golden rays, Or in your light expire.
If this, oh Strange Ringed Eyes, be true, That through all changing lives This longing love I have for you Eternally survives, May I not sometimes dare to dream In some far time to be Your softly golden eyes may gleam Responsively on me?
Ah gentle, subtly changing eyes, You smiled on me one day, And all my life in glad surprise Leaped up, imploring "Stay!" Alas, alas, oh Golden Eyes, So cruel and so gay, You went to shine in other skies, Smiled once and passed away.
Kotri, by the River
At Kotri, by the river, when the evening's sun is low, The waving palm trees quiver, the golden waters glow, The shining ripples shiver, descending to the sea; At Kotri, by the river, she used to wait for me.
So young, she was, and slender, so pale with wistful eyes As luminous and tender as Kotri's twilight skies. Her face broke into flowers, red flowers at the mouth, Her voice,—she sang for hours like bulbuls in the south.
We sat beside the water through burning summer days, And many things I taught her of Life and all its ways Of Love, man's loveliest duty, of Passion's reckless pain, Of Youth, whose transient beauty comes once, but not again.
She lay and laughed and listened beside the water's edge. The glancing river glistened and glinted through the sedge. Green parrots flew above her and, as the daylight died, Her young arms drew her lover more closely to her side.
Oh days so warm and golden! oh nights so cool and still! When Love would not be holden, and Pleasure had his will. Days, when in after leisure, content to rest we lay, Nights, when her lips' soft pressure drained all my life away.
And while we sat together, beneath the Babul trees, The fragrant, sultry weather cooled by the river breeze, If passion faltered ever, and left the senses free, We heard the tireless river decending to the sea.
I know not where she wandered, or went in after days, Or if her youth she squandered in Love's more doubtful ways. Perhaps, beside the river, she died, still young and fair; Perchance the grasses quiver above her slumber there.
At Kotri, by the river, maybe I too shall sleep The sleep that lasts for ever, too deep for dreams; too deep. Maybe among the shingle and sand of floods to be Her dust and mine may mingle and float away to sea.
Ah Kotri, by the river, when evening's sun is low, Your faint reflections quiver, your golden ripples glow. You knew, oh Kotri river, that love which could not last. For me your palms still shiver with passions of the past.
Farewell, Aziz, it was not mine to fold you Against my heart for any length of days. I had no loveliness, alas, to hold you, No siren voice, no charm that lovers praise.
Yet, in the midst of grief and desolation, Solace I my despairing soul with this: Once, for my life's eternal consolation, You lent my lips your loveliness to kiss.
Ah, that one night! I think Love's very essence Distilled itself from out my joy and pain, Like tropical trees, whose fervid inflorescence Glows, gleams, and dies, never to bloom again.
Often I marvel how I met the morning With living eyes after that night with you, Ah, how I cursed the wan, white light for dawning, And mourned the paling stars, as each withdrew!
Yet I, even I, who am less than dust before you, Less than the lowest lintel of your door, Was given one breathless midnight, to adore you. Fate, having granted this, can give no more!
Since, Oh, Beloved, you are not even faithful To me, who loved you so, for one short night, For one brief space of darkness, though my absence Did but endure until the dawning light;
Since all your beauty—which was mine—you squandered On that which now lies dead across your door; See here this knife, made keen and bright to kill you. You shall not see the sun rise any more.
Lie still! Lie still! In all the empty village Who is there left to hear or heed your cry? All are gone to labour in the valley, Who will return before your time to die?
No use to struggle; when I found you sleeping, I took your hands and bound them to your side, And both these slender feet, too apt at straying, Down to the cot on which you lie are tied.
Lie still, Beloved; that dead thing lying yonder, I hated and I killed, but love is sweet, And you are more than sweet to me, who love you, Who decked my eyes with dust from off your feet.
Give me your lips; Ah, lovely and disloyal Give me yourself again; before you go Down through the darkness of the Great, Blind Portal, All of life's best and basest you must know.
Erstwhile Beloved, you were so young and fragile I held you gently, as one holds a flower: But now, God knows, what use to still be tender To one whose life is done within an hour?
I hurt? What then? Death will not hurt you, dearest, As you hurt me, for just a single night, You call me cruel, who laid my life in ruins To gain one little moment of delight.
Look up, look out, across the open doorway The sunlight streams. The distant hills are blue. Look at the pale, pink peach trees in our garden, Sweet fruit will come of them;—but not for you.
The fair, far snow, upon those jagged mountains That gnaw against the hard blue Afghan sky Will soon descend, set free by summer sunshine. You will not see those torrents sweeping by.
The world is not for you. From this day forward, You must lie still alone; who would not lie Alone for one night only, though returning I was, when earliest dawn should break the sky.
There lies my lute, and many strings are broken, Some one was playing it, and some one tore The silken tassels round my Hookah woven; Some one who plays, and smokes, and loves, no more!
Some one who took last night his fill of pleasure, As I took mine at dawn! The knife went home Straight through his heart! God only knows my rapture Bathing my chill hands in the warm red foam.
And so I pain you? This is only loving, Wait till I kill you! Ah, this soft, curled hair! Surely the fault was mine, to love and leave you Even a single night, you are so fair.
Cold steel is very cooling to the fervour Of over passionate ones, Beloved, like you. Nay, turn your lips to mine. Not quite unlovely They are as yet, as yet, though quite untrue.
What will your brother say, to-night returning With laden camels homewards to the hills, Finding you dead, and me asleep beside you, Will he awake me first before he kills?
For I shall sleep. Here on the cot beside you When you, my Heart's Delight, are cold in death. When your young heart and restless lips are silent, Grown chilly, even beneath my burning breath.
When I have slowly drawn my knife across you, Taking my pleasure as I see you swoon, I shall sleep sound, worn out by love's last fervour, And then, God grant your kinsmen kill me soon!
At night, when Passion's ebbing tide Left bare the Sands of Truth, Yasmini, resting by my side, Spoke softly of her youth.
"And one" she said "was tall and slim, Two crimson rose leaves made his mouth, And I was fain to follow him Down to his village in the South.
"He was to build a hut hard by The stream where palms were growing, We were to live, and love, and lie, And watch the water flowing.
"Ah, dear, delusive, distant shore, By dreams of futile fancy gilt! The riverside we never saw, The palm leaf hut was never built!
"One had a Tope of Mangoe trees, Where early morning, noon and late, The Persian wheels, with patient ease, Brought up their liquid, silver freight.
"And he was fain to rise and reach That garden sloping to the sea, Whose groves along the wave-swept beach Should shelter him and love and me.
"Doubtless, upon that western shore With ripe fruit falling to the ground, There dwells the Peace he hungered for, The lovely Peace we never found.
"Then there came one with eager eyes And keen sword, ready for the fray. He missed the storms of Northern skies, The reckless raid and skirmish gay!
"He rose from dreams of war's alarms, To make his daggers keen and bright, Desiring, in my very arms, The fiercer rapture of the fight!
"He left me soon; too soon, and sought The stronger, earlier love again. News reached me from the Cabul Court, Afterwards nothing; doubtless slain.
"Doubtless his brilliant, haggard eyes, Long since took leave of life and light, And those lithe limbs I used to prize Feasted the jackal and the kite.
"But the most loved! his sixteen years Shone in his cheeks' transparent red. My kisses were his first: my tears Fell on his face when he was dead.
"He died, he died, I speak the truth, Though light love leave his memory dim, He was the Lover of my Youth And all my youth went down with him.
"For passion ebbs and passion flows, But under every new caress The riven heart more keenly knows Its own inviolate faithfulness.
"Our Gods are kind and still deem fit As in old days, with those to lie, Whose silent hearths are yet unlit By the soft light of infancy.
"Therefore, one strange, mysterious night Alone within the Temple shade, Recipient of a God's delight I lay enraptured, unafraid.
"Also to me the boon was given, But mourning quickly followed mirth, My son, whose father stooped from Heaven, Died in the moment of his birth.
"When from the war beyond the seas The reckless Lancers home returned, Their spoils were laid across my knees About my lips their kisses burned.
"Back from the Comradeship of Death, Free from the Friendship of the Sword, With brilliant eyes and famished breath They came to me for their reward.
"Why do I tell you all these things, Baring my life to you, unsought? When Passion folds his wearied wings Sleep should be follower, never Thought.
"Ay, let us sleep. The window pane Grows pale against the purple sky. The dawn is with us once again, The dawn; which always means good-bye."
Within her little trellised room, beside the palm-fringed sea, She wakeful in the scented gloom, spoke of her youth to me.
Ojira, to Her Lover
I am waiting in the desert, looking out towards the sunset, And counting every moment till we meet. I am waiting by the marshes and I tremble and I listen Till the soft sands thrill beneath your coming feet.
Till I see you, tall and slender, standing clear against the skyline A graceful shade across the lingering red, While your hair the breezes ruffle, turns to silver in the twilight, And makes a fair faint aureole round your head.
Far away towards the sunset I can see a narrow river, That unwinds itself in red tranquillity; I can hear its rippled meeting, and the gurgle of its greeting, As it mingles with the loved and long sought sea.
In the purple sky above me showing dark against the starlight, Long wavering flights of homeward birds fly low, They cry each one to the other, and their weird and wistful calling, Makes most melancholy music as they go.
Oh, my dearest hasten, hasten! It is lonely here. Already Have I heard the jackals' first assembling cry, And among the purple shadows of the mangroves and the marshes Fitful echoes of their footfalls passing by.
Ah, come soon! my arms are empty, and so weary for your beauty, I am thirsty for the music of your voice. Come to make the marshes joyous with the sweetness of your presence, Let your nearing feet bid all the sands rejoice!
My hands, my lips are feverish with the longing and the waiting And no softness of the twilight soothes their heat, Till I see your radiant eyes, shining stars beneath the starlight, Till I kiss the slender coolness of your feet.
Ah, loveliest, most reluctant, when you lay yourself beside me All the planets reel around me—fade away, And the sands grow dim, uncertain,—I stretch out my hands towards you While I try to speak but know not what I say!
I am faint with love and longing, and my burning eyes are gazing Where the furtive Jackals wage their famished strife, Oh, your shadow on the mangroves! and your step upon the sandhills,— This is the loveliest evening of my Life!
Thoughts: Mahomed Akram
If some day this body of mine were burned (It found no favour alas! with you) And the ashes scattered abroad, unurned, Would Love die also, would Thought die too? But who can answer, or who can trust, No dreams would harry the windblown dust?
Were I laid away in the furrows deep Secure from jackal and passing plough, Would your eyes not follow me still through sleep Torment me then as they torture now? Would you ever have loved me, Golden Eyes, Had I done aught better or otherwise?
Was I overspeechful, or did you yearn When I sat silent, for songs or speech? Ah, Beloved, I had been so apt to learn, So apt, had you only cared to teach. But time for silence and song is done, You wanted nothing, my Golden Sun!
What should you want of a waning star? That drifts in its lonely orbit far Away from your soft, effulgent light In outer planes of Eternal night?
You are all that is lovely and light, Aziza whom I adore, And, waking, after the night, I am weary with dreams of you. Every nerve in my heart is tense and sore As I rise to another morning apart from you.
I dream of your luminous eyes, Aziza whom I adore! Of the ruffled silk of your hair, I dream, and the dreams are lies. But I love them, knowing no more Will ever be mine of you Aziza, my life's despair.
I would burn for a thousand days, Aziza whom I adore, Be tortured, slain, in unheard of ways If you pitied the pain I bore. You pity! Your bright eyes, fastened on other things, Are keener to sting my soul, than scorpion stings!
You are all that is lovely to me, All that is light, One white rose in a Desert of weariness. I only live in the night, The night, with its fair false dreams of you, You and your loveliness.
Give me your love for a day, A night, an hour: If the wages of sin are Death I am willing to pay. What is my life but a breath Of passion burning away? Away for an unplucked flower. O Aziza whom I adore, Aziza my one delight, Only one night, I will die before day, And trouble your life no more.
My life was like an Aloe flower, beneath an orient sky, Your sunshine touched it for an hour; it blossomed but to die.
Torn up, cast out, on rubbish heaps where red flames work their will Each atom of the Aloe keeps the flower-time fragrance still.
How I loved you in your sleep, With the starlight on your hair!
The touch of your lips was sweet, Aziza whom I adore, I lay at your slender feet, And against their soft palms pressed, I fitted my face to rest. As winds blow over the sea From Citron gardens ashore, Came, through your scented hair, The breeze of the night to me.
My lips grew arid and dry, My nerves were tense, Though your beauty soothe the eye It maddens the sense. Every curve of that beauty is known to me, Every tint of that delicate roseleaf skin, And these are printed on every atom of me, Burnt in on every fibre until I die. And for this, my sin, I doubt if ever, though dust I be, The dust will lose the desire, The torment and hidden fire, Of my passionate love for you. Aziza whom I adore, My dust will be full of your beauty, as is the blue And infinite ocean full of the azure sky.
In the light that waxed and waned Playing about your slumber in silver bars, As the palm trees swung their feathery fronds athwart the stars, How quiet and young you were, Pale as the Champa flowers, violet veined, That, sweet and fading, lay in your loosened hair.
How sweet you were in your sleep, With the starlight on your hair! Your throat thrown backwards, bare, And touched with circling moonbeams, silver white On the couch's sombre shade. O Aziza my one delight, When Youth's passionate pulses fade, And his golden heart beats slow, When across the infinite sky I see the roseate glow Of my last, last sunset flare, I shall send my thoughts to this night And remember you as I die, The one thing, among all the things of this earth, found fair.
How sweet you were in your sleep, With the starlight, silver and sable, across your hair!
The First Lover
As o'er the vessel's side she leant, She saw the swimmer in the sea With eager eyes on her intent, "Come down, come down and swim with me."
So weary was she of her lot, Tired of the ship's monotony, She straightway all the world forgot Save the young swimmer in the sea
So when the dusky, dying light Left all the water dark and dim, She softly, in the friendly night, Slipped down the vessel's side to him.
Intent and brilliant, brightly dark, She saw his burning, eager eyes, And many a phosphorescent spark About his shoulders fall and rise.
As through the hushed and Eastern night They swam together, hand in hand, Or lay and laughed in sheer delight Full length upon the level sand.
"Ah, soft, delusive, purple night Whose darkness knew no vexing moon! Ah, cruel, needless, dawning light That trembled in the sky too soon!"
Khan Zada's Song on the Hillside
The fires that burn on all the hills Light up the landscape grey, The arid desert land distills The fervours of the day.
The clear white moon sails through the skies And silvers all the night, I see the brilliance of your eyes And need no other light.
The death sighs of a thousand flowers The fervent day has slain Are wafted through the twilight hours, And perfume all the plain.
My senses strain, and try to clasp Their sweetness in the air, In vain, in vain; they only grasp The fragrance of your hair.
The plain is endless space expressed; Vast is the sky above, I only feel, against your breast, Infinities of love.
Deserted Gipsy's Song: Hillside Camp
She is glad to receive your turquoise ring, Dear and dark-eyed Lover of mine! I, to have given you everything: Beauty maddens the soul like Wine.
"She is proud to have held aloof her charms, Slender, dark-eyed Lover of mine! But I, of the night you lay in my arms: Beauty maddens the sense like Wine!
"She triumphs to think that your heart is won, Stately, dark-eyed Lover of mine! I had not a thought of myself, not one: Beauty maddens the brain like Wine!
"She will speak you softly, while skies are blue, Dear, deluded Lover of mine! I would lose both body and soul for you: Beauty maddens the brain like Wine!
"While the ways are fair she will love you well, Dear, disdainful Lover of mine! But I would have followed you down to Hell: Beauty maddens the soul like Wine!
"Though you lay at her feet the days to be, Now no longer Lover of mine! You can give her naught that you gave not me: Beauty maddened my soul like Wine!
"When the years have shown what is false or true: Beauty maddens the sight like Wine! You will understand how I cared for you, First and only Lover of mine!"
How one loves them These wide horizons; whether Desert or Sea,— Vague and vast and infinite; faintly clear— Surely, hid in the far away, unknown "There," Lie the things so longed for and found not, found not, Here.
Only where some passionate, level land Stretches itself in reaches of golden sand, Only where the sea line is joined to the sky-line, clear, Beyond the curve of ripple or white foamed crest,— Shall the weary eyes Distressed by the broken skies,— Broken by Minaret, mountain, or towering tree,— Shall the weary eyes be assuaged,—be assuaged,—and rest.
After the Hazara War
I lie alone beneath the Almond blossoms, Where we two lay together in the spring, And now, as then, the mountain snows are melting, This year, as last, the water-courses sing.
That was another spring, and other flowers, Hung, pink and fragile, on the leafless tree, The land rejoiced in other running water, And I rejoiced, because you were with me.
You, with your soft eyes, darkly lashed and shaded, Your red lips like a living, laughing rose, Your restless, amber limbs so lithe and slender Now lost to me. Gone whither no man knows.
You lay beside me singing in the sunshine; The rough, white fur, unloosened at the neck, Showed the smooth skin, fair as the Almond blossoms, On which the sun could find no flaw or fleck.
I lie alone, beneath the Almond flowers, I hated them to touch you as they fell. And now, who killed you? worse, Ah, worse, who loves you? (My soul is burning as men burn in Hell.)
How I have sought you in the crowded cities! I have been mad, they say, for many days. I know not how I came here, to the valley, What fate has led me, through what doubtful ways.
Somewhere I see my sword has done good service, Some one I killed, who, smiling, used your name, But in what country? Nay, I have forgotten, All thought is shrivelled in my heart's hot flame.
Where are you now, Delight, and where your beauty, Your subtle curls, and laughing, changeful face? Bound, bruised and naked (dear God, grant me patience), And sold in Cabul in the market-place.
I asked of you of all men. Who could tell me? Among so many captured, sold, or slain, What fate was yours? (Ah, dear God, grant me patience, My heart is burnt, is burnt, with fire and pain.)
Oh, lost Delight! my heart is almost breaking, My sword is broken and my feet are sore, The people look at me and say in passing, "He will not leave the village any more."
For as the evening falls, the fever rises, With frantic thoughts careering through the brain, Wild thoughts of you. (Ah, dear God, grant me patience, My soul is hurt beyond all men call pain.)
I lie alone, beneath the Almond blossoms, And see the white snow melting on the hills Till Khorassan is gay with water-courses, Glad with the tinkling sound of running rills,
And well I know that when the fragile petals Fall softly, ere the first green leaves appear, (Ah, for these last few days, God, grant me patience,) Since Delight is not, I shall not be, here!
Do you ever think of me? you who died Ere our Youth's first fervour chilled, With your soft eyes and your pulses stilled Lying alone, aside, Do you ever think of me, left in the light, From the endless calm of your dawnless night?
I am faithful always: I do not say That the lips which thrilled to your lips of old To lesser kisses are always cold; Had you wished for this in its narrow sense Our love perhaps had been less intense; But as we held faithfulness, you and I, I am faithful always, as you who lie, Asleep for ever, beneath the grass, While the days and nights and the seasons pass,— Pass away.
I keep your memory near my heart, My brilliant, beautiful guiding Star, Till long live over, I too depart To the infinite night where perhaps you are.
Oh, are you anywhere? Loved so well! I would rather know you alive in Hell Than think your beauty is nothing now, With its deep dark eyes and tranquil brow Where the hair fell softly. Can this be true That nothing, nowhere, exists of you? Nothing, nowhere, oh, loved so well I have never forgotten. Do you still keep Thoughts of me through your dreamless sleep?
Oh, gone from me! lost in Eternal Night, Lost Star of light, Risen splendidly, set so soon, Through the weariness of life's afternoon I dream of your memory yet. My loved and lost, whom I could not save, My youth went down with you to the grave, Though other planets and stars may rise, I dream of your soft and sorrowful eyes And I cannot forget.
Song of Faiz Ulla
Just at the time when Jasmins bloom, most sweetly in the summer weather, Lost in the scented Jungle gloom, one sultry night we spent together We, Love and Night, together blent, a Trinity of tranced content.
Yet, while your lips were wholly mine, to kiss, to drink from, to caress, We heard some far-off faint distress; harsh drop of poison in sweet wine Lessening the fulness of delight,— Some quivering note of human pain, Which rose and fell and rose again, in plaintive sobs throughout the night,
Spoiling the perfumed, moonless hours We spent among the Jasmin flowers.
Story of Lilavanti
They lay the slender body down With all its wealth of wetted hair, Only a daughter of the town, But very young and slight and fair.
The eyes, whose light one cannot see, Are sombre doubtless, like the tresses, The mouth's soft curvings seem to be A roseate series of caresses.
And where the skin has all but dried (The air is sultry in the room) Upon her breast and either side, It shows a soft and amber bloom.
By women here, who knew her life, A leper husband, I am told, Took all this loveliness to wife When it was barely ten years old.
And when the child in shocked dismay Fled from the hated husband's care He caught and tied her, so they say, Down to his bedside by her hair.
To some low quarter of the town, Escaped a second time, she flew; Her beauty brought her great renown And many lovers here she knew,
When, as the mystic Eastern night With purple shadow filled the air, Behind her window framed in light, She sat with jasmin in her hair.
At last she loved a youth, who chose To keep this wild flower for his own, He in his garden set his rose Where it might bloom for him alone.
Cholera came; her lover died, Want drove her to the streets again, And women found her there, who tried To turn her beauty into gain.
But she who in those garden ways Had learnt of Love, would now no more Be bartered in the market place For silver, as in days before.
That former life she strove to change; She sold the silver off her arms, While all the world grew cold and strange To broken health and fading charms.
Till, finding lovers, but no friend, Nor any place to rest or hide, She grew despairing at the end, Slipped softly down a well and died.
And yet, how short, when all is said, This little life of love and tears! Her age, they say, beside her bed, To-day is only fifteen years.
The Garden by the Bridge
The Desert sands are heated, parched and dreary, The tigers rend alive their quivering prey In the near Jungle; here the kites rise, weary, Too gorged with living food to fly away.
All night the hungry jackals howl together Over the carrion in the river bed, Or seize some small soft thing of fur or feather Whose dying shrieks on the night air are shed.
I hear from yonder Temple in the distance Whose roof with obscene carven Gods is piled, Reiterated with a sad insistence Sobs of, perhaps, some immolated child.
Strange rites here, where the archway's shade is deeper, Are consummated in the river bed; Parias steal the rotten railway sleeper To burn the bodies of their cholera dead.
But yet, their lust, their hunger, cannot shame them Goaded by fierce desire, that flays and stings; Poor beasts, and poorer men. Nay, who shall blame them? Blame the Inherent Cruelty of Things.
The world is horrible and I am lonely, Let me rest here where yellow roses bloom And find forgetfulness, remembering only Your face beside me in the scented gloom.
Nay, do not shrink! I am not here for passion, I crave no love, only a little rest, Although I would my face lay, lover's fashion, Against the tender coolness of your breast.
I am so weary of the Curse of Living The endless, aimless torture, tumult, fears. Surely, if life were any God's free giving, He, seeing His gift, long since went blind with tears.
Seeing us; our fruitless strife, our futile praying, Our luckless Present and our bloodstained Past. Poor players, who make a trick or two in playing, But know that death must win the game at last.
As round the Fowler, red with feathered slaughter, The little joyous lark, unconscious, sings,— As the pink Lotus floats on azure water, Innocent of the mud from whence it springs.
You walk through life, unheeding all the sorrow, The fear and pain set close around your way, Meeting with hopeful eyes each gay to-morrow, Living with joy each hour of glad to-day.
I love to have you thus (nay, dear, lie quiet, How should these reverent fingers wrong your hair?) So calmly careless of the rush and riot That rages round is seething everywhere.
You do not understand. You think your beauty Does but inflame my senses to desire, Till all you hold as loyalty and duty, Is shrunk and shrivelled in the ardent fire.
You wrong me, wearied out with thought and grieving As though the whole world's sorrow eat my heart, I come to gaze upon your face believing Its beauty is as ointment to the smart.
Lie still and let me in my desolation Caress the soft loose hair a moment's span. Since Loveliness is Life's one Consolation, And love the only Lethe left to man.
Ah, give me here beneath the trees in flower, Beside the river where the fireflies pass, One little dusky, all consoling hour Lost in the shadow of the long grown grass
Give me, oh you whose arms are soft and slender, Whose eyes are nothing but one long caress, Against your heart, so innocent and tender, A little Love and some Forgetfulness.
Fate Knows no Tears
Just as the dawn of Love was breaking Across the weary world of grey, Just as my life once more was waking As roses waken late in May, Fate, blindly cruel and havoc-making, Stepped in and carried you away.
Memories have I none in keeping Of times I held you near my heart, Of dreams when we were near to weeping That dawn should bid us rise and part; Never, alas, I saw you sleeping With soft closed eyes and lips apart,
Breathing my name still through your dreaming.— Ah! had you stayed, such things had been! But Fate, unheeding human scheming, Serenely reckless came between— Fate with her cold eyes hard and gleaming Unseared by all the sorrow seen.
Ah! well-beloved, I never told you, I did not show in speech or song, How at the end I longed to fold you Close in my arms; so fierce and strong The longing grew to have and hold you, You, and you only, all life long.
They who know nothing call me fickle, Keen to pursue and loth to keep. Ah, could they see these tears that trickle From eyes erstwhile too proud to weep. Could see me, prone, beneath the sickle, While pain and sorrow stand and reap!
Unopened scarce, yet overblown, lie The hopes that rose-like round me grew, The lights are low, and more than lonely This life I lead apart from you. Come back, come back! I want you only, And you who loved me never knew.
You loved me, pleaded for compassion On all the pain I would not share; And I in weary, halting fashion Was loth to listen, long to care; But now, dear God! I faint with passion For your far eyes and distant hair.
Yes, I am faint with love, and broken With sleepless nights and empty days; I want your soft words fiercely spoken, Your tender looks and wayward ways— Want that strange smile that gave me token Of many things that no man says.
Cold was I, weary, slow to waken Till, startled by your ardent eyes, I felt the soul within me shaken And long-forgotten senses rise; But in that moment you were taken, And thus we lost our Paradise!
Farewell, we may not now recover That golden "Then" misspent, passed by, We shall not meet as loved and lover Here, or hereafter, you and I. My time for loving you is over, Love has no future, but to die.
And thus we part, with no believing In any chance of future years. We have no idle self-deceiving, No half-consoling hopes and fears; We know the Gods grant no retrieving A wasted chance. Fate knows no tears.
Verses: Faiz Ulla
Just in the hush before dawn A little wistful wind is born. A little chilly errant breeze, That thrills the grasses, stirs the trees. And, as it wanders on its way, While yet the night is cool and dark, The first carol of the lark,— Its plaintive murmurs seem to say "I wait the sorrows of the day."
Two Songs by Sitara, of Kashmir
Beloved! your hair was golden As tender tints of sunrise, As corn beside the River In softly varying hues. I loved you for your slightness, Your melancholy sweetness, Your changeful eyes, that promised What your lips would still refuse.
You came to me, and loved me, Were mine upon the River, The azure water saw us And the blue transparent sky; The Lotus flowers knew it, Our happiness together, While life was only River, Only love, and you and I.
Love wakened on the River, To sounds of running water, With silver Stars for witness And reflected Stars for light; Awakened to existence, With ripples for first music And sunlight on the River For earliest sense of sight.
Love grew upon the River Among the scented flowers, The open rosy flowers Of the Lotus buds in bloom— Love, brilliant as the Morning, More fervent than the Noon-day, And tender as the Twilight In its blue transparent gloom.
Love died upon the River! Cold snow upon the mountains, The Lotus leaves turned yellow And the water very grey. Our kisses faint and falter, The clinging hands unfasten, The golden time is over And our passion dies away.
Away. To be forgotten, A ripple on the River, That flashes in the sunset, That flashed,—and died away.
Second Song: The Girl from Baltistan
Throb, throb, throb, Far away in the blue transparent Night, On the outer horizon of a dreaming consciousness, She hears the sound of her lover's nearing boat Afar, afloat On the river's loneliness, where the Stars are the only light; Hear the sound of the straining wood Like a broken sob Of a heart's distress, Loving misunderstood.
She lies, with her loose hair spent in soft disorder, On a silken sheet with a purple woven border, Every cell of her brain is latent fire, Every fibre tense with restrained desire. And the straining oars sound clearer, clearer, The boat is approaching nearer, nearer; "How to wait through the moments' space Till I see the light of my lover's face?"
Throb, throb, throb, The sound dies down the stream Till it only clings at the senses' edge Like a half-remembered dream. Doubtless, he in the silence lies, His fair face turned to the tender skies, Starlight touching his sleeping eyes. While his boat caught in the thickset sedge And the waters round it gurgle and sob, Or floats set free on the river's tide, Oars laid aside.
She is awake and knows no rest, Passion dies and is dispossessed Of his brief, despotic power. But the Brain, once kindled, would still be afire Were the whole world pasture to its desire, And all of love, in a single hour,— A single wine cup, filled to the brim, Given to slake its thirst.
Some there are who are thus-wise cursed Times that follow fulfilled desire Are of all their hours the worst. They find no Respite and reach no Rest, Though passion fail and desire grow dim, No assuagement comes from the thing possessed For possession feeds the fire.
"Oh, for the life of the bright hued things Whose marriage and death are one, A floating fusion on golden wings. Alit with passion and sun!
"But we who re-marry a thousand times, As the spirit or senses will, In a thousand ways, in a thousand climes, We remain unsatisfied still."
As her lover left her, alone, awake she lies, With a sleepless brain and weary, half-closed eyes. She turns her face where the purple silk is spread, Still sweet with delicate perfume his presence shed. Her arms remembered his vanished beauty still, And, reminiscent of clustered curls, her fingers thrill. While the wonderful, Starlit Night wears slowly on Till the light of another day, serene and wan, Pierces the eastern skies.
Palm Trees by the Sea
Love, let me thank you for this! Now we have drifted apart, Wandered away from the sea,— For the fresh touch of your kiss, For the young warmth of your heart, For your youth given to me.
Thanks: for the curls of your hair, Softer than silk to the hand, For the clear gaze of your eyes. For yourself: delicate, fair, Seen as you lay on the sand, Under the violet skies.
Thanks: for the words that you said,— Secretly, tenderly sweet, All through the tropical day, Till, when the sunset was red, I, who lay still at your feet, Felt my life ebbing away,
Weary and worn with desire, Only yourself could console. Love let me thank you for this! For that fierce fervour and fire Burnt through my lips to my soul From the white heat of your kiss!
You were the essence of Spring, Wayward and bright as a flame: Though we have drifted apart, Still how the syllables sing Mixed in your musical name, Deep in the well of my heart!
Once in the lingering light, Thrown from the west on the Sea, Laid you your garments aside, Slender and goldenly bright, Glimmered your beauty, set free, Bright as a pearl in the tide.
Once, ere the thrill of the dawn Silvered the edge of the sea, I, who lay watching you rest,— Pale in the chill of the morn Found you still dreaming of me Stilled by love's fancies possessed.
Fallen on sorrowful days, Love, let me thank you for this, You were so happy with me! Wrapped in Youth's roseate haze, Wanting no more than my kiss By the blue edge of the sea!
Ah, for those nights on the sand Under the palms by the sea, For the strange dream of those days Spent in the passionate land, For your youth given to me, I am your debtor always!
Song by Gulbaz
"Is it safe to lie so lonely when the summer twilight closes No companion maidens, only you asleep among the roses?
"Thirteen, fourteen years you number, and your hair is soft and scented, Perilous is such a slumber in the twilight all untented.
"Lonely loveliness means danger, lying in your rose-leaf nest, What if some young passing stranger broke into your careless rest?"
But she would not heed the warning, lay alone serene and slight, Till the rosy spears of morning slew the darkness of the night.
Young love, walking softly, found her, in the scented, shady closes, Threw his ardent arms around her, kissed her lips beneath the roses.
And she said, with smiles and blushes, "Would that I had sooner known! Never now the morning thrushes wake and find me all alone.
"Since you said the rose-leaf cover sweet protection gave, but slight, I have found this dear young lover to protect me through the night!"
Pale hands I love beside the Shalimar, Where are you now? Who lies beneath your spell? Whom do you lead on Rapture's roadway, far, Before you agonise them in farewell?
Oh, pale dispensers of my Joys and Pains, Holding the doors of Heaven and of Hell, How the hot blood rushed wildly through the veins Beneath your touch, until you waved farewell.
Pale hands, pink tipped, like Lotus buds that float On those cool waters where we used to dwell, I would have rather felt you round my throat, Crushing out life, than waving me farewell!
Reverie of Ormuz the Persian
Softly the feathery Palm-trees fade in the violet Distance, Faintly the lingering light touches the edge of the sea, Sadly the Music of Waves, drifts, faint as an Anthem's insistence, Heard in the aisles of a dream, over the sandhills, to me.
Now that the Lights are reversed, and the Singing changed into sighing, Now that the wings of our fierce, fugitive passion are furled, Take I unto myself, all alone in the light that is dying, Much of the sorrow that lies hid at the Heart of the World.
Sad am I, sad for your loss: for failing the charm of your presence, Even the sunshine has paled, leaving the Zenith less blue. Even the ocean lessens the light of its green opalescence, Since, to my sorrow I loved, loved and grew weary of, you.
Why was our passion so fleeting, why had the flush of your beauty Only so slender a spell, only so futile a power? Yet, even thus ever is life, save when long custom or duty Moulds into sober fruit Love's fragile and fugitive flower.
Fain would my soul have been faithful; never an alien pleasure Lured me away from the light lit in your luminous eyes, But we have altered the World as pitiful man has leisure To criticise, balance, take counsel, assuredly lies.
All through the centuries Man has gathered his flower, and fenced it, —Infinite strife to attain; infinite struggle to keep,— Holding his treasure awhile, all Fate and all forces against it, Knowing it his no more, if ever his vigilance sleep.
But we have altered the World as pitiful man has grown stronger, So that the things we love are as easily kept as won, Therefore the ancient fight can engage and detain us no longer, And all too swiftly, alas, passion is over and done.
Far too speedily now we can gather the coveted treasure, Enjoy it awhile, be satiated, begin to tire; And what shall be done henceforth with the profitless after-leisure, Who has the breath to kindle the ash of a faded fire?
Ah, if it only had lasted! After my ardent endeavour Came the delirious Joy, flooding my life like a sea, Days of delight that are burnt on the brain for ever and ever, Days and nights when you loved, before you grew weary of me.
Softly the sunset decreases dim in the violet Distance, Even as Love's own fervour has faded away from me, Leaving the weariness, the monotonous Weight of Existence,— All the farewells in the world weep in the sound of the sea.
Oh, straight, white road that runs to meet, Across green fields, the blue green sea, You knew the little weary feet Of my child bride that was to be!
Her people brought her from the shore One golden day in sultry June, And I stood, waiting, at the door, Praying my eyes might see her soon.
With eager arms, wide open thrown, Now never to be satisfied! Ere I could make my love my own She closed her amber eyes and died.
Alas! alas! they took no heed How frail she was, my little one, But brought her here with cruel speed Beneath the fierce, relentless sun.
We laid her on the marriage bed The bridal flowers in her hand, A maiden from the ocean led Only, alas! to die inland.
I walk alone; the air is sweet, The white road wanders to the sea, I dream of those two little feet That grew so tired in reaching me.
Who does not feel desire unending To solace through his daily strife, With some mysterious Mental Blending, The hungry loneliness of life?
Until, by sudden passion shaken, As terriers shake a rat at play, He finds, all blindly, he has taken The old, Hereditary way.
Yet, in the moment of communion, The very heart of passion's fire, His spirit spurns the mortal union, "Not this, not this, the Soul's desire!"
* * * *
Oh You, by whom my life is riven, And reft away from my control, Take back the hours of passion given! Love me one moment from your soul.
Although I once, in ardent fashion, Implored you long to give me this; (In hopes to stem, or stifle, passion) Your hair to touch, your lips to kiss
Now that your gracious self has granted The loveliness you hold as naught, I find, alas! not that I wanted— Possession has not stifled Thought.
Desire its aim has only shifted,— Built hopes upon another plan, And I in love for you have drifted Beyond all passion known to man.
Beyond all dreams of soft caresses The solacing of any kiss,— Beyond the fragrance of your tresses (Once I had sold my soul for this!)
But now I crave no mortal union (Thanks for that sweetness in the past); I need some subtle, strange communion, Some sense that I join you, at last.
Long past the pulse and pain of passion, Long left the limits of all love,— I crave some nearer, fuller fashion, Some unknown way, beyond, above,—
Some infinitely inner fusion, As Wave with Water; Flame with Fire,— Let me dream once the dear delusion That I am You, Oh, Heart's Desire!
Your kindness lent to my caresses That beauty you so lightly prize,— The midnight of your sable tresses, The twilight of your shadowed eyes.
Ah, for that gift all thanks are given! Yet, Oh, adored, beyond control, Count all the passionate past forgiven And love me once, once, from your soul.
Three Songs of Zahir-u-Din
The tropic day's redundant charms Cool twilight soothes away, The sun slips down behind the palms And leaves the landscape grey. I want to take you in my arms And kiss your lips away!
I wake with sunshine in my eyes And find the morning blue, A night of dreams behind me lies And all were dreams of you! Ah, how I wish the while I rise, That what I dream were true.
The weary day's laborious pace, I hasten and beguile By fancies, which I backwards trace To things I loved erstwhile; The weary sweetness of your face, Your faint, illusive smile.
The silken softness of your hair Where faint bronze shadows are, Your strangely slight and youthful air, No passions seem to mar,— Oh, why, since Fate has made you fair, Must Fortune keep you far?
Thus spent, the day so long and bright Less hot and brilliant seems, Till in a final flare of light The sun withdraws his beams. Then, in the coolness of the night, I meet you in my dreams!
How much I loved that way you had Of smiling most, when very sad, A smile which carried tender hints Of delicate tints And warbling birds, Of sun and spring, And yet, more than all other thing, Of Weariness beyond all Words!
None other ever smiled that way, None that I know,— The essence of all Gaiety lay, Of all mad mirth that men may know, In that sad smile, serene and slow, That on your lips was wont to play.
It needed many delicate lines And subtle curves and roseate tints To make that weary radiant smile; It flickered, as beneath the vines The sunshine through green shadow glints On the pale path that lies below, Flickered and flashed, and died away, But the strange thoughts it woke meanwhile Were wont to stay.
Thoughts of Strange Things you used to know In dim, dead lives, lived long ago, Some madly mirthful Merriment Whose lingering light is yet unspent,— Some unimaginable Woe,— Your strange, sad smile forgets these not, Though you, yourself, long since, forgot!
Third Song, written during Fever
To-night the clouds hang very low, They take the Hill-tops to their breast, And lay their arms about the fields. The wind that fans me lying low, Restless with great desire for rest, No cooling touch of freshness yields.
I, sleepless through the stifling heat, Watch the pale Lightning's constant glow Between the wide set open doors. I lie and long amidst the heat,— The fever that my senses know, For that cool slenderness of yours.
So delicate and cool you are! A roseleaf that has lain in snow, A snowflake tinged with sunset fire. You do not know, so young you are, How Fever fans the senses' glow To uncontrollable desire!
And fills the spaces of the night With furious and frantic thought, One would not dare to think by day. Ah, if you came to me to-night These visions would be turned to naught, These hateful dreams be held at bay!
But you are far, and Loneliness My only lover through the night; And not for any word or prayer Would you console my loneliness Or lend yourself, serene and slight, And the cool clusters of your hair.
All through the night I long for you, As shipwrecked men in tropics yearn For the fresh flow of streams and springs. My fevered fancies follow you As dying men in deserts turn Their thoughts to clear and chilly things.
Such dreams are mine, and such my thirst, Unceasing and unsatisfied, Until the night is burnt away Among these dreams and fevered thirst, And, through the open doorways, glide The white feet of the coming day.
The Regret of the Ranee in the Hall of Peacocks
This man has taken my Husband's life And laid my Brethren low, No sister indeed, were I, no wife, To pardon and let him go.
Yet why does he look so young and slim As he weak and wounded lies? How hard for me to be harsh to him With his soft, appealing eyes.
His hair is ruffled upon the stone And the slender wrists are bound, So young! and yet he has overthrown His scores on the battle ground.
Would I were only a slave to-day, To whom it were right and meet To wash the stains of the War away, The dust from the weary feet.
Were I but one of my serving girls To solace his pain to rest! Shake out the sand from the soft loose curls, And hold him against my breast!
Have we such beauty around our Throne? Such lithe and delicate strength? Would God that I were the senseless stone To support his slender length!
I hate those wounds that trouble my sight, Unknown! how I wish you lay, Alone in my silken tent to-night While I charmed the pain away.
I would lay you down on the Royal bed, I would bathe your wounds with wine, And setting your feet against my head Dream you were lover of mine.
My Crown is heavy upon my hair, The Jewels weigh on my breast, All I would leave, with delight, to share Your pale and passionate rest!
But hands grow restless about their swords, Lips murmur below their breath, "The Queen is silent too long!" "My Lords, —Take him away to death!"
Protest: By Zahir-u-Din
Alas! alas! this wasted Night With all its Jasmin-scented air, Its thousand stars, serenely bright! I lie alone, and long for you, Long for your Champa-scented hair, Your tranquil eyes of twilight hue;
Long for the close-curved, delicate lips —Their sinuous sweetness laid on mine— Here, where the slender fountain drips, Here, where the yellow roses glow, Pale in the tender silver shine The stars across the garden throw.
Alas! alas! poor passionate Youth! Why must we spend these lonely nights? The poets hardly speak the truth,— Despite their praiseful litany, His season is not all delights Nor every night an ecstasy!
The very power and passion that make— Might make—his days one golden dream, How he must suffer for their sake! Till, in their fierce and futile rage, The baffled senses almost deem They might be happier in old age.
Age that can find red roses sweet, And yet not crave a rose-red mouth; Hear Bulbuls, with no wish that feet Of sweeter singers went his way; Inhale warm breezes from the South, Yet never fed his fancy stray.
From some near Village I can hear The cadenced throbbing of a drum, Now softly distant, now more near; And in an almost human fashion, It, plaintive, wistful, seems to come Laden with sighs of fitful passion,
To mock me, lying here alone Among the thousand useless flowers Upon the fountain's border-stone— Cold stone, that chills me as I lie Counting the slowly passing hours By the white spangles in the sky.
Some feast the Tom-toms celebrate, Where, close together, side by side, Gay in their gauze and tinsel state With lips serene and downcast eyes, Sit the young bridegroom and his bride, While round them songs and laughter rise.
They are together; Why are we So hopelessly, so far apart? Oh, I implore you, come to me! Come to me, Solace of mine eyes! Come Consolation of my heart! Light of my senses! What replies?
A little, languid, mocking breeze That rustles through the Jasmin flowers And stirs among the Tamarind trees; A little gurgle of the spray That drips, unheard, though silent hours, Then breaks in sudden bubbling play.
Wind, have you never loved a rose? And water, seek you not the Sea? Why, therefore, mock at my repose? Is it my fault I am alone Beneath the feathery Tamarind tree Whose shadows over me are thrown?
Nay, I am mad indeed, with thirst For all to me this night denied And drunk with longing, and accurst Beyond all chance of sleep or rest, With love, unslaked, unsatisfied, And dreams of beauty unpossessed.
Hating the hour that brings you not, Mad at the space betwixt us twain, Sad for my empty arms, so hot And fevered, even the chilly stone Can scarcely cool their burning pain,— And oh, this sense of being alone!
Take hence, O Night, your wasted hours, You bring me not my Life's Delight, My Star of Stars, my Flower of Flowers! You leave me loveless and forlorn, Pass on, most false and futile night, Pass on, and perish in the Dawn!
Death and Famine on every side And never a sign of rain, The bones of those who have starved and died Unburied upon the plain. What care have I that the bones bleach white? To-morrow they may be mine, But I shall sleep in your arms to-night And drink your lips like wine!
Cholera, Riot, and Sudden Death, And the brave red blood set free, The glazing eye and the failing breath,— But what are these things to me? Your breath is quick and your eyes are bright And your blood is red like wine, And I shall sleep in your arms to-night And hold your lips with mine!
I hear the sound of a thousand tears, Like softly pattering rain, I see the fever, folly, and fears Fulfilling man's tale of pain. But for the moment your star is bright, I revel beneath its shine, For I shall sleep in your arms to-night And feel your lips on mine!
And you need not deem me over cold, That I do not stop to think For all the pleasure this Life may hold Is on the Precipice brink. Thought could but lessen my soul's delight, And to-day she may not pine. For I shall lie in your arms to-night And close your lips with mine!
I trust what sorrow the Fates may send I may carry quietly through, And pray for grace when I reach the end, To die as a man should do. To-day, at least, must be clear and bright, Without a sorrowful sign, Because I sleep in your arms to-night And feel your lips on mine!
So on I work, in the blazing sun, To bury what dead we may, But glad, oh, glad, when the day is done And the night falls round us grey. Would those we covered away from sight Had a rest as sweet as mine! For I shall sleep in your arms to-night And drink your lips like wine!
The Window Overlooking the Harbour
Sad is the Evening: all the level sand Lies left and lonely, while the restless sea, Tired of the green caresses of the land, Withdraws into its own infinity.
But still more sad this white and chilly Dawn Filling the vacant spaces of the sky, While little winds blow here and there forlorn And all the stars, weary of shining, die.
And more than desolate, to wake, to rise, Leaving the couch, where softly sleeping still, What through the past night made my heaven, lies; And looking out across the window sill
See, from the upper window's vantage ground, Mankind slip into harness once again, And wearily resume his daily round Of love and labour, toil and strife and pain.
How the sad thoughts slip back across the night: The whole thing seems so aimless and so vain. What use the raptures, passion and delight, Burnt out; as though they could not wake again.
The worn-out nerves and weary brain repeat The question: Whither all these passions tend;— This curious thirst, so painful and so sweet, So fierce, so very short-lived, to what end?
Even, if seeking for ourselves, the Race, The only immortality we know,— Even if from the flower of our embrace Some spark should kindle, or some fruit should grow,
What were the use? the gain, to us or it, That we should cause another You or Me,— Another life, from our light passion lit, To suffer like ourselves awhile and die.
What aim, what end indeed? Our being runs In a closed circle. All we know or see Tends to assure us that a thousand Suns, Teeming perchance with life, have ceased to be.
Ah, the grey Dawn seems more than desolate, And the past night of passion worse than waste, Love but a useless flower, that soon or late, Turns to a fruit with bitter aftertaste.
Youth, even Youth, seems futile and forlorn While the new day grows slowly white above. Pale and reproachful comes the chilly Dawn After the fervour of a night of love.
Back to the Border
The tremulous morning is breaking Against the white waste of the sky, And hundreds of birds are awaking In tamarisk bushes hard by. I, waiting alone in the station, Can hear in the distance, grey-blue, The sound of that iron desolation, The train that will bear me from you.
'T will carry me under your casement, You'll feel in your dreams as you lie The quiver, from gable to basement, The rush of my train sweeping by. And I shall look out as I pass it,— Your dear, unforgettable door, 'T was ours till last night, but alas! it Will never be mine any more.
Through twilight blue-grey and uncertain, Where frost leaves the window-pane free, I'll look at the tinsel-edged curtain That hid so much pleasure for me. I go to my long undone duty Alone in the chill and the gloom, My eyes are still full of the beauty I leave in your rose-scented room.
Lie still in your dreams; for your tresses Are free of my lingering kiss. I keep you awake with caresses No longer; be happy in this! From passion you told me you hated You're now and for ever set free, I pass in my train, sorrow-weighted, Your house that was Heaven to me.
You won't find a trace, when you waken, Of me or my love of the past, Rise up and rejoice! I have taken My longed-for departure at last. My fervent and useless persistence You never need suffer again, Nor even perceive in the distance The smoke of my vanishing train!
Alone, I wait, till her twilight gate The Night slips quietly through, With shadow and gloom, and purple bloom, Flung over the Zenith blue.
Her stars that tremble, would fain dissemble Light over lovers thrown,— Her hush and mystery know no history Such as day may own. Day has record of pleasure and pain, But things that are done by Night remain For ever and ever unknown.
For a thousand years, 'neath a thousand skies, Night has brought men love; Therefore the old, old longings rise As the light grows dim above.
Therefore, now that the shadows close, And the mists weird and white, While Time is scented with musk and rose; Magic with silver light.
I long for love; will you grant me some? Day is over at last. Come! as lovers have always come, Through the evenings of the Past. Swiftly, as lovers have always come, Softly, as lovers have always come Through the long-forgotten Past.
Against the planks of the cabin side, (So slight a thing between them and me,) The great waves thundered and throbbed and sighed, The great green waves of the Indian sea!
Your face was white as the foam is white, Your hair was curled as the waves are curled, I would we had steamed and reached that night The sea's last edge, the end of the world.
The wind blew in through the open port, So freshly joyous and salt and free, Your hair it lifted, your lips it sought, And then swept back to the open sea.
The engines throbbed with their constant beat; Your heart was nearer, and all I heard; Your lips were salt, but I found them sweet, While, acquiescent, you spoke no word.
So straight you lay in your narrow berth, Rocked by the waves; and you seemed to be Essence of all that is sweet on earth, Of all that is sad and strange at sea.
And you were white as the foam is white, Your hair was curled as the waves are curled. Ah! had we but sailed and reached that night, The sea's last edge, the end of the world!
To the Hills!
'T is eight miles out and eight miles in, Just at the break of morn. 'T is ice without and flame within, To gain a kiss at dawn!
Far, where the Lilac Hills arise Soft from the misty plain, A lone enchanted hollow lies Where I at last drew rein.
Midwinter grips this lonely land, This stony, treeless waste, Where East, due East, across the sand, We fly in fevered haste.
Pull up! the East will soon be red, The wild duck westward fly, And make above my anxious head, Triangles in the sky.
Like wind we go; we both are still So young; all thanks to Fate! (It cuts like knives, this air so chill,) Dear God! if I am late!
Behind us, wrapped in mist and sleep The Ruined City lies, (Although we race, we seem to creep!) While lighter grow the skies.
Eight miles out only, eight miles in, Good going all the way; But more and more the clouds begin To redden into day.
And every snow-tipped peak grows pink An iridescent gem! My heart beats quick, with joy, to think How I am nearing them!
As mile on mile behind us falls, Till, Oh, delight! I see My Heart's Desire, who softly calls Across the gloom to me.
The utter joy of that First Love No later love has given, When, while the skies grew light above, We entered into Heaven.
Till I Wake
When I am dying, lean over me tenderly, softly, Stoop, as the yellow roses droop in the wind from the South. So I may, when I wake, if there be an Awakening, Keep, what lulled me to sleep, the touch of your lips on my mouth.
His Rubies: Told by Valgovind
Along the hot and endless road, Calm and erect, with haggard eyes, The prisoner bore his fetters' load Beneath the scorching, azure skies.
Serene and tall, with brows unbent, Without a hope, without a friend, He, under escort, onward went, With death to meet him at the end.
The Poppy fields were pink and gay On either side, and in the heat Their drowsy scent exhaled all day A dream-like fragrance almost sweet.
And when the cool of evening fell And tender colours touched the sky, He still felt youth within him dwell And half forgot he had to die.
Sometimes at night, the Camp-fires lit And casting fitful light around, His guard would, friend-like, let him sit And talk awhile with them, unbound.
Thus they, the night before the last, Were resting, when a group of girls Across the small encampment passed, With laughing lips and scented curls.
Then in the Prisoner's weary eyes A sudden light lit up once more, The women saw him with surprise, And pity for the chains he bore.
For little women reck of Crime If young and fair the criminal be Here in this tropic, amorous clime Where love is still untamed and free.
And one there was, she walked less fast, Behind the rest, perhaps beguiled By his lithe form, who, as she passed, Waited a little while, and smiled.