“Oh take me, Death, ere ever the charm shall
Ah, close these eyes, ere ever the dream grow dim.
I welcome thee with rapture, and unafraid,
Even as yesternight I welcomed Him.”
* * * * *
now, Impatient one; it well may be
That ten moons hence I shall return for thee.”
Beauty, the Gift of Gifts, I give to thee.
Pleasure and love shall spring around thy feet
As through the lake the lotuses arise
Pinkly transparent and divinely sweet.
I give thee eyes aglow like morning stars,
Delicate brows, a mist of sable tresses,
That all the journey of thy lie may be
Lit up by love and softened by caresses.
For those who once were proud and softly bred
Shall, kneeling, wait thee as thou passest by,
They who were pure shall stretch forth eager hands
Crying, “Thy pity, Lord, before we die!”
And one shall murmur, “If the sun at dawn
Shall open and caress a happy flower,
What blame to him, although the blossom fade
In the full splendour of his noontide power?”
And one, “If aloes close together grow
It well may chance a plant shall wounded be,
Pierced by the thorntips of another’s leaves,
Thus am I hurt unconsciously by thee.”
For some shall die and many more shall sin,
Suffering for thy sake till seven times seven,
Because of those most perfect lips of thine
Which held the power to make or mar their heaven.
And though thou givest back but cruelty,
Their love, persistent, shall not heed nor care,
All those whose ears are fed with blame of thee
Shall say, “It may be so, but he was fair.”
Ay, those who lost the whole of youth for thee,
Made early and for ever, shamed and sad,
Shall sigh, re-living some sweet memory,
“Ah, once it was his will to make me glad.”
Thy nights shall be as bright as summer days,
The sequence of thy sins shall seem as duty,
Since I have given thee, Oh, Gift of Gifts!—
The pale perfection of unrivalled beauty.
Talk not, my Lord, of unrequited love,
Since love requites itself most royally.
Do we not live but by the sun above,
And takes he any heed of thee or me?
Though in my firmament thou wilt not shine,
Thy glory, as a Star, is none the less.
Oh, Rose, though all unplucked by hand of mine,
Still am I debtor to thy loveliness.
The sun was hot on the tamarind trees,
Their shadows shrivelled and shrank.
No coolness came on the off-shore breeze
That rattled the scrub on the bank.
She stretched her appealing arms to me,
Uplifting the Flagon of Love to me,
Till—great indeed was my unslaked thirst—
I paused, I stooped, and I drank!