Yea, this will be; many will doubtless share
The rose whose bud has been my one delight,
And I shall not be there to shield my flower.
Yet, I have taught thee of the ways of men,
Much I have learnt in cities and in courts,
Winnowed to suit thy tender brain,—is thine,
Thus Life shall find thee, not all unprepared
To face its callous, subtle cruelties.
Still,—it will profit little; I discern
Thou art of those whose love will prove their curse,
—Thou sayest thou lovest me, to thy delight?
Nay, little one, it is not love as yet.
Dear as thou art, and lovely, thou canst not love,
Thy later loves shall show the truth of this.
Ay, by some subtle signs I know full well
That thou art capable of that great love
Whose glory has the light of unknown heavens,
And makes hot Hell for those who harbour it.
Naught I can say could save thee from thyself,
Ah, were I half my age! Yet even that,
Had been too old for thy sweet thirteenth year.
Still, thou art happy now, and glad thine eyes,
When, as the lilac evening gains the sky,
I lay thee, ’twixt thine own soft hair and me,
Kissing thy senses into soft delight.
Ruffling the petals of my half-closed rose
With tender touches, and perpetual care
That no wild moment of mine own delight
Deep in the flower’s heart,—should set the fruit.
Ah, in the days to come, it well may be,
When thou shalt see thy beauty stained and torn
By the harsh sequel of some future love,
Thy thoughts shall stray to thy first lover’s grave,
And thou shalt murmur, “Ay, but that was love.
They were most wrong who said he did me wrong.
Only I was too young to understand.”
Ah, Wind, I have always loved thee
Since those far off nights
When I lay beneath the vines
A prey to strange delights,
For among my tresses
Thy soft caresses
Were sweet as a lover’s to me.
Later thou grewest more wanton, or I more shy,
And after the bath I drew my garments close,
Fearing thy soft persuasion amongst my hair
When thou camest fresh with the scent of some ruffled rose.
Ah, Wind, thou hast lain with the Desert,
I know her savour well,
And the spices wherewith she scents her breasts—
She who has known such countless lovers
Yet rarely borne a city among her sands—
Thou comest as one from a night of love,
Thy breath is broken and hard,—
Bringing echoes of lonely things,
Vast and cruel, that the soft and golden sands
Buried beneath thin ripples so long ago.
Ah, Wind, thou hast given me lovely things,
The scent of a thousand flowers,
And the heavy perfume of pollen-laden fields,
Strange snatches of wild song from the heart of the dark Bazaar
That thrilled to my very core,
Till I threw the sheet aside and rose to follow,—
But whither, or what?