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- Last Poems - 1/12 -


Last Poems Translations from the Book of Indian Love

Laurence Hope [Adela Florence Cory "Violet" Nicolson]

Dedication to Malcolm Nicolson

I, who of lighter love wrote many a verse, Made public never words inspired by thee, Lest strangers' lips should carelessly rehearse Things that were sacred and too dear to me.

Thy soul was noble; through these fifteen years Mine eyes familiar, found no fleck nor flaw, Stern to thyself, thy comrades' faults and fears Proved generously thine only law.

Small joy was I to thee; before we met Sorrow had left thee all too sad to save. Useless my love--as vain as this regret That pours my hopeless life across thy grave.

L. H.

The Masters

Oh, Masters, you who rule the world, Will you not wait with me awhile, When swords are sheathed and sails are furled, And all the fields with harvest smile? I would not waste your time for long, I ask you but, when you are tired, To read how by the weak, the strong Are weighed and worshipped and desired.

When weary of the Mart, the Loom, The Withering-house, the Riffle-blocks, The Barrack-square, the Engine-room, The pick-axe, ringing on the rocks,-- When tents are pitched and work is done, While restful twilight broods above, By fresh-lit lamp, or dying sun, See in my songs how women love.

We shared your lonely watch by night, We knew you faithful at the helm, Our thoughts went with you through the fight, That saved a soul,--or wrecked a realm Ah, how our hearts leapt forth to you, In pride and joy, when you prevailed, And when you died, serene and true: --We wept in silence when you failed!

Oh, brain that did not gain the gold! Oh, arm, that could not wield the sword, Here is the love, that is not sold, Here are the hearts to hail you Lord!

You played and lost the game? What then? The rules are harsh and hard we know, You, still, Oh, brothers, are the men Whom we in secret reverence so. Your work was waste? Maybe your share Lay in the hour you laughed and kissed; Who knows but what your son shall wear The laurels that his father missed?

Ay, you who win, and you who lose, Whether you triumph,--or despair,-- When your returning footsteps choose The homeward track, our love is there. For, since the world is ordered thus, To you the fame, the stress, the sword, We can but wait, until to us You give yourselves, for our reward.

To Whaler's deck and Coral beach, To lonely Ranch and Frontier-Fort, Beyond the narrow bounds of speech I lay the cable of my thought. I fain would send my thanks to you, (Though who am I, to give you praise?) Since what you are, and work you do, Are lessons for our easier ways.

'Neath alien stars your camp-fires glow, I know you not,--your tents are far. My hope is but in song to show, How honoured and dear you are.

I Shall Forget

Although my life, which thou hast scarred and shaken, Retains awhile some influence of thee, As shells, by faithless waves long since forsaken, Still murmur with the music of the Sea,

I shall forget. Not thine the haunting beauty, Which, once beheld, for ever holds the heart, Or, if resigned from stress of Fate or Duty, Takes part of life away:--the dearer part.

I gave thee love; thou gavest but Desire. Ah, the delusion of that summer night! Thy soul vibrated at the rate of Fire; Mine, with the rhythm of the waves of Light.

It is my love for thee that I regret, Not thee, thyself, and hence,--I shall forget!

The Lament of Yasmini, the Dancing-Girl

Ah, what hast thou done with that Lover of mine? The Lover who only cared for thee? Mine for a handful of nights, and thine For the Nights that Are and the Days to Be, The scent of the Champa lost its sweet-- So sweet is was in the Times that Were!-- Since His alone, of the numerous feet That climb my steps, have returned not there. Ahi, Yasmini, return not there!

Art thou yet athrill at the touch of His hand, Art thou still athirst for His waving hair? Nay, passion thou never couldst understand, Life's heights and depths thou wouldst never dare. The Great Things left thee untouched, unmoved, The Lesser Things had thy constant care. Ah, what hast thou done with the Lover I loved, Who found me wanting, and thee so fair? Ahi, Yasmini, He found her fair!

Nay, nay, the greatest of all was thine; The love of the One whom I craved for so, But much I doubt if thou couldst divine The Grace and Glory of Love, or know The worth of the One whom thine arms embraced. I may misjudge thee, but who can tell? So hard it is, for the one displaced, To weigh the worth of a rival's spell. Ahi, Yasmini, thy rival's spell!

And Thou, whom I loved: have the seasons brought That fair content, which allured Thee so? Is it all that Thy delicate fancy wrought? Yasmini wonders; she may not know. Yet never the Stars desert the sky, To fade away in the desolate Dawn, But Yasmini watches their glory die, And mourns for her own Bright Star withdrawn. Ahi, Yasmini, the lonely dawn!

Ah, never the lingering gold dies down In a sunset flare of resplendent light, And never the palm-tree's feathery crown Uprears itself to the shadowy night, But Yasmini thinks of those evenings past, When she prayed the glow of the glimmering West To vanish quickly, that night, at last, Might bring Thee back to her waiting breast. Ahi, Yasmini, how sweet that rest!

Yet I would not say that I always weep; The force, that made such a desperate thing Of my love for Thee, has not fallen asleep, The blood still leaps, and the senses sing, While other passion has oft availed. (Other Love--Ah, my One, forgive!--) To aid, when Churus and Opium failed;-- I could not suffer so much and live. Ahi, Yasmini, who had to live!

Nay, why should I say "Forgive" to Thee? To whom my lovers and I are naught, Who granted some passionate nights to me, Then rose and left me with never a thought! And yet, Ah, yet, for those Nights that Were, Thy passive limbs and thy loose loved hair, I would pay, as I _have_ paid, all these days, With the love that kills and the thought that slays. Ahi, Yasmini, thy youth it slays!

The youthful widow, with shaven hair, Whose senses ache for the love of a man, The young Priest, knowing that women are fair, Who stems his longing as best he can, These suffer not as I suffer for Thee; For the Soul desires what the senses crave, There will never be pleasure or peace for me, Since He who wounded, alone could save. Ahi, Yasmini, He will not save!


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