Hira-Singh's Farewell to Burmah

A poem by Laurence Hope (Adela Florence Cory Nicolson)

On the wooden deck of the wooden Junk, silent, alone, we lie,
With silver foam about the bow, and a silver moon in the sky:
A glimmer of dimmer silver here, from the anklets round your feet,
Our lips may close on each other's lips, but never our souls may meet.

For though in my arms you lie at rest, your name I have never heard,
To carry a thought between us two, we have not a single word.
And yet what matter we do not speak, when the ardent eyes have spoken,
The way of love is a sweeter way, when the silence is unbroken.

As a wayward Fancy, tired at times, of the cultured Damask Rose,
Drifts away to the tangled copse, where the wild Anemone grows;
So the ordered and licit love ashore, is hardly fresh and free
As this light love in the open wind and salt of the outer sea.

So sweet you are, with your tinted cheeks and your small caressive hands,
What if I carried you home with me, where our Golden Temple stands?
Yet, this were folly indeed; to bind, in fetters of permanence,
A passing dream whose enchantment charms because of its trancience.

Life is ever a slave to Time; we have but an hour to rest,
Her steam is up and her lighters leave, the vessel that takes me west;
And never again we two shall meet, as we chance to meet to-night,
On the Junk, whose painted eyes gaze forth, in desolate want of sight.

And what is love at its best, but this? Conceived by a passing glance,
Nursed and reared in a transient mood, on a drifting Sea of Chance.
For rudderless craft are all our loves, among the rocks and the shoals,
Well we may know one another's speech, but never each other's souls.

Give here your lips and kiss me again, we have but a moment more,
Before we set the sail to the mast, before we loosen the oar.
Good-bye to you, and my thanks to you, for the rest you let me share,
While this night drifted away to the Past, to join the Nights that Were.

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