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!
POEMS BY LAURENCE HOPE
"Afridi Love" is reprinted
from Poetica Erotica. Ed. T.R. Smith. New York: Crown