Story Of Udaipore: Told By Lalla-ji, The Priest

by Laurence Hope

Adela Florence Nicolson

"And when the Summer Heat is great,
And every hour intense,
The Moghra, with its subtle flowers,
Intoxicates the sense."
The Coco palms stood tall and slim, against the golden-glow,
And all their grey and graceful plumes were waving to and fro.
She lay forgetful in the boat, and watched the dying Sun
Sink slowly lakewards, while the stars replaced him, one by one.
She saw the marble Temple walls long white reflections make,
The echoes of their silvery bells were blown across the lake.
The evening air was very sweet; from off the island bowers
Came scents of Moghra trees in bloom, and Oleander flowers.
"The Moghra flowers that smell so sweet
When love's young fancies play;
The acrid Moghra flowers, still sweet
Though love be burnt away."
The boat went drifting, ucontrolled, the rower rowed no more,
But deftly turned the slender prow towards the further shore.
The dying sunset touched with gold the Jasmin in his hair;
His eyes were darkly luminous: she looked and found him fair.
And so persuasively he spoke, she could not say him nay,
And when his young hands took her own, she smiled and let them stay.
And all the youth awake in him, all love of Love in her,
All scents of white and subtle flowers that filled the twilight air
Combined together with the night in kind conspiracy
To do Love service, while the boat went drifting onwards, free.
"The Moghra flowers, the Moghra flowers,
While Youth's quick pulses play
They are so sweet, they still are sweet,
Though passion burns away."
Low in the boat the lovers lay, and from his sable curls
The Jasmin flowers slipped away to rest among the girl's.
Oh, silver lake and silver night and tender silver sky!
Where as the hours passed, the moon rose white and cold on high.
"The Moghra flowers, the Moghra flowers,
So dear to Youth at play;
The small and subtle Moghra flowers
That only last a day."
Suddenly, frightened, she awoke, and waking vaguely saw
The boat had stranded in the sedge that fringed the further shore.
The breeze grown chilly, swayed the palms; she heard, still half awake,
A prowling jackal's hungry cry blown faintly o'er the lake.
She shivered, but she turned to kiss his soft, remembered face,
Lit by the pallid light he lay, in Youth's abandoned grace.
But as her lips met his she paused, in terror and dismay,
The white moon showed her by her side asleep a Leper lay.
"Ah, Moghra flowers, white Moghra flowers,
All love is blind, they say;
The Moghra flowers, so sweet, so sweet,
Though love be burnt away!"

Last updated January 14, 2019