by Laurence Hope

Adela Florence Nicolson

Oh, come, Beloved, before my beauty fades,
Pity the sorrow of my loneliness.
I am a Rosebush that the Cypress shades,
No sunbeams find or lighten my distress.
Daily I watch the waning of my bloom.
Ah, piteous fading of a thing so fair!
While Fate, remorseless, weaving at her loom,
Twines furtive silver in my twisted hair.
This noon I watched a tremulous fading rose
Rise on the wind to court a butterfly.
"One speck of pollen, ere my petals close,
Bring me one touch of love before I die!"
But the gay butterfly, who had the power
To grant, refused, flew far across the dell,
And, as he fertilised a younger flower,
The petals of the rose, defrauded, fell.
Such was my fate, thou hast not come to me,
Thine eyes are absent, and thy voice is mute,
Though I am slim, as this Papaya tree,
With breasts out-pointing, even as its fruit.
Beauty was mine, it brought me no caress,
My lips were red, yet there were none to taste,
I saw my youth consume in loneliness,
And all the fervour of my heart run waste.
While I still hoped that Thou would'st come to me,
I and the garden waited for their Lord.
Here He will rest, beneath this Champa tree;
Hence, all ye spike-set grasses from the sward!
In this cool rillet I shall bathe His feet,
Come, rounded pebbles from a smoother shore.
This is the honey that His lips will eat,
Hasten, O bees, enhance the amber store!
Ripen, ye Custard Apples, round and fair,
Practise your songs, O Bulbuls, on the bough,
Surely some sweeter sweetness haunts the air;
Maybe His feet draw near us, even now!
Disperse, ye fireflies, clustered on the palm,
Love heeds no lamp, he welcomes moonless skies:
Soon shall ye find, O stars, serene and calm,
Your sparkling rivals in my lover's eyes!
Closely I wove my leafy Jasmin bowers,
Hoping to hide my pleasure and my shame,
Where the Lantana's indecisive flowers
Vary from palest rose to orange flame.
Ay, there were lovely hours, 'neath fern and palm,
Almost my aching longing I forgot.
White nights of silence, noons of golden calm,
All past, all wasted, since Thou camest not!
Night after night the Champa trees distilled
Their cruel sweetness on the careless air.
Noon after noon I watched the Bulbuls build,
And saw with hungry eyes the Sun-birds pair.
None came, and none will come; no use to wait,--
Youth's fragrance dies, its tender light dies down.
I will arise, before it grows too late,
And seek the noisy brilliance of the town.
These many waiting years I longed for gold,
Now must I needs console me with alloy.
Before this beauty fades, this pulse grows cold,
I may not love, I will at least enjoy!
Farewell, my Solitude of scented flowers,
Across whose glades the emerald parrots gleam,
Haunt of false hope, and home of wasted hours,
I am awake, at last,--Guard thou the dream!

Last updated January 14, 2019