by Laurence Hope
Ay, thou has found thy kingdom, Yasin Khan,
Thy fathers' pomp and power are thine, at last.
No more the rugged roads of Khorasan,
The scanty food and tentage of the past!
Wouldst thou make war? thy followers know no fear.
Where shouldst thou lead them but to victory?
Wouldst thou have love? thy soft-eyed slaves draw near,
Eager to drain thy strength away from thee.
My thoughts drag backwards to forgotten days,
To scenes etched deeply on my heart by pain;
The thirsty marches, ambuscades, and frays,
The hostile hills, the burnt and barren plain.
Hast thou forgotten how one night was spent,
Crouched in a camel's carcase by the road,
Along which Akbar's soldiers, scouting, went,
And he himself, all unsuspecting, rode?
Did we not waken one despairing dawn,
Attacked in front, cut off in rear, by snow,
Till, like a tiger leaping on a fawn,
Half of the hill crashed down upon the foe?
Once, as thou mournd'st thy lifeless brother's fate,
The red tears falling from thy shattered wrist,
A spent Waziri, forceful still, in hate,
Covered they heart, ten paces off,--and missed!
Ahi, men thrust a worn and dinted sword
Into a velvet-scabbarded repose;
The gilded pageants that salute thee Lord
Cover _one_ sorrow-rusted heart, God knows.
Ah, to exchange this wealth of idle days
For one cold reckless night of Khorasan!
To crouch once more before the camp-fire blaze
That lit the lonely eyes of Yasin Khan.
To watch the starlight glitter on the snows,
The plain stretched round us like a waveless sea,
Waiting until thy weary lids should close
To slip my furs and spread them over thee.
How the wind howled about the lonely pass,
While the faint snow-shine of that plateaued space
Lit, where it lay upon the frozen grass,
The mournful, tragic beauty of thy face.
Thou hast enough caressed the scented hair
Of these soft-breasted girls who waste thee so.
Hast thou not sons for every adult year?
Let us arise, O Yasin Khan, and go!
Let us escape from these prison bars
To gain the freedom of an open sky,
Thy soul and mine, alone beneath the stars,
Intriguing danger, as in days gone by.
Nay; there is no returning, Yasin Khan.
The white peaks ward the passes, as of yore,
The wind sweeps o'er the wastes of Khorasan;--
But thou and I go thitherward no more.
Close, ah, too close, the bitter knowledge clings,
We may not follow where my fancies yearn.
The years go hence, and wild and lovely things,
_Their own_, go with them, never to return.
Last updated January 14, 2019