Famine Song

A poem by Laurence Hope (Adela Florence Cory Nicolson)

Death and Famine on every side
And never a sign of rain,
The bones of those who have starved and died
Unburied upon the plain.
What care have I that the bones bleach white?
To-morrow they may be mine,
But I shall sleep in your arms to-night
And drink your lips like wine!

Cholera, Riot, and Sudden Death,
And the brave red blood set free,
The glazing eye and the failing breath, -
But what are these things to me?
Your breath is quick and your eyes are bright
And your blood is red like wine,
And I shall sleep in your arms to-night
And hold your lips with mine!

I hear the sound of a thousand tears,
Like softly pattering rain,
I see the fever, folly, and fears
Fulfilling man's tale of pain.
But for the moment your star is bright,
I revel beneath its shine,
For I shall sleep in your arms to-night
And feel your lips on mine!

And you need not deem me over cold,
That I do not stop to think
For all the pleasure this Life may hold
Is on the Precipice brink.
Thought could but lessen my soul's delight,
And to-day she may not pine.
For I shall lie in your arms to-night
And close your lips with mine!

I trust what sorrow the Fates may send
I may carry quietly through,
And pray for grace when I reach the end,
To die as a man should do.
To-day, at least, must be clear and bright,
Without a sorrowful sign,
Because I sleep in your arms to-night
And feel your lips on mine!

So on I work, in the blazing sun,
To bury what dead we may,
But glad, oh, glad, when the day is done
And the night falls round us grey.
Would those we covered away from sight
Had a rest as sweet as mine!
For I shall sleep in your arms to-night
And drink your lips like wine!

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