Then at least I had understood
This thing they tell me thou findest good.
But I have been down to the River of Death,
With painful footsteps and shuddering breath,
Seven times; thou hast daughters three,
And four young sons who are fair as thee.
I am not unlovely, over my head
Not twenty summers as yet have sped.
’T is eleven years since my opening life
Was given to thee by my father’s wife.
Ah, those days—They were lovely to me,
When little and shy I waited for thee.
Till I locked my arms round my lover above,
A child in form but a woman in love.
And I bore thy sons, as a woman should,
Year by year, as is meet and good.
Thy mother was ever content with me—
And Oh, Beloved, I worshipped thee!
And now it’s over; alas, my lord,
Better I felt thy sharpest sword.
I hear she is youthful and fair as I
When I came to thee in the days gone by.
Her breasts are firmer; this bosom slips
Somewhat, weighted by children’s lips.
But they were thy children. Oh, lord my king,
Ah, why hast thy heart devised this thing ?
I am not as the women of this thy land,
Meek and timid, broken to hand.
From the distant North I was given to thee,
Whose daughters are passionate, fierce and free,
I could not dwell by a rival’s side,
I seek a bridegroom, as thou a bride.
The night she yieldeth her youth to thee,
Death shall take his pleasure in me.
I arise and go down to the River, and currents that
come from the sea,
Still fresh with the salt of the ocean, are lovely and precious to me,
The waters are silver and silent, except where the kingfisher dips,
Or the ripples wash off from my shoulder the reddening stain of thy lips.
Two things make my joy at this moment: thy gold-coloured
beauty by night,
And the delicate charm of the River, all pale in the day-breaking light,
So cool are the waters’ caresses. Ah, which is the lovelier,—this?
Or the fire that it kindles at midnight, beneath the soft glow of thy kiss?
Ah, Love has a mighty dominion, he forges with passionate
The links which stretch out to the Future, with forces of life and of death,
But great is the charm of the River, so soft is the sigh of the reeds,
They give me, long sleepless from passion, the peace that my weariness needs.
I float on the breast of my River, and startle the
birds on the edge,
To land on a newly found island, a boat that is caught in the sedge,
The rays of the sun are still level, not yet has the heat of the day
Deflowered the mists of the morning, that linger in delicate grey.
What land was his dwelling whose fancy first gave
unto Paradise birth?
He never had swum in my River, or else he had fixed it on earth!
Oh, grace of the palm-tree reflections, Oh, sense of the wind from the sea!
Oh, divine and serene exultation of one who is lonely and free!