by: Laurence Hope (1865-1904)

      INCE, 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 down 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, just for 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 overpassionate 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 brothers say, to-night returning
      With laden camels homewards to the hills,
      Finding you dead, and me asleep beside you,
      Will he wake 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 the 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!

"Afridi Love" is reprinted from Poetica Erotica. Ed. T.R. Smith. New York: Crown Publishers, 1921.




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