Shivratri (the Night of Shiva)

A poem by Laurence Hope (Adela Florence Cory Nicolson)

(While the procession passed at Ramesram)

Nearer and nearer cometh the car
Where the Golden Goddess towers,
Sweeter and sweeter grows the air
From a thousand trampled flowers.
We two rest in the Temple shade
Safe from the pilgrim flood,
This path of the Gods in olden days
Ran royally red with blood.

Louder and louder and louder yet
Throbs the sorrowful drum -
That is the tortured world's despair,
Never a moment dumb.
Shriller and shriller shriek the flutes,
Nature's passionate need -
Paler and paler grow my lips,
And still thou bid'st them bleed.

Deeper and deeper and deeper still,
Never a pause for pain -
Darker and darker falls the night
That golden torches stain.
Closer, ah! closer, and still more close,
Till thy soul reach my soul -
Further, further, out on the tide
From the shores of self-control.

Glowing, glowing, to whitest heat,
Thy feverish passions burn,
Fiercer and fiercer, cruelly fierce,
To thee my senses yearn.
Fainter and fainter runs my blood
With desperate fight for breath -
This, my Beloved, thou sayest is Love,
Or I should have deemed it Death!

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