Lallji my Desire

A poem by Laurence Hope (Adela Florence Cory Nicolson)

"This is no time for saying 'no'"
Were thy last words to me,
And yet my lips refused the kiss
They might have given thee.
How could I know
That thou wouldst go
To sleep so far from me?

They took thee to the Burning-Ghat,
Oh, Lallji, my desire,
And now a faint and lonely flame
Uprises from the pyre.
The thin grey smoke in spirals drifts
Across the opal sky.
Would that I were a wife of thine,
And thus with thee could die!
How could I know
That thou wouldst go,
Oh, Lallji, my desire?
The lips I missed
The flames have kissed
Upon the Sandal pyre.

If one should meet me with a knife
And cut my heart in twain,
Then would he see the smoke arise
From every severed vein.
Such is the burning, inward fire,
The anguish of my pain,
For my Beloved, whose dying lips
Implored a kiss - in vain!
How could I know
That thou wouldst go,
Oh, Lallji, my desire?
Too young thou art
To lay thy heart
Upon the Sandal pyre.

Thy wife awaits her coming child;
What were a child to me,
If I might take thee in these arms
And face the flames with thee?
The priests are chanting round the pyre,
At dusk they will depart
And leave to thee thy lonely rest,
To me my lonelier heart.
How could I know
Thou lovedst me so?
Upon the Sandal pyre
He lies forsaken.
The flames have taken
My Lallji, my desire!

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