Song of Jasoda

A poem by Laurence Hope (Adela Florence Cory Nicolson)

Had I been young I could have claimed to fold thee
For many days against my eager breast;
But, as things are, how can I hope to hold thee
Once thou hast wakened from this fleeting rest?

Clear shone the moonlight, so that thou couldst find me,
Yet not so clear that thou couldst see my face,
Where in the shadow of the palms behind me
I waited for thy steps, for thy embrace.

What reck I now my morning life was lonely?
For widowed feet the ways are always rough.
Though thou hast come to me at sunset only,
Still thou hast come, my Lord, it is enough.

Ah, mine no more the glow of dawning beauty,
The fragrance and the dainty gloss of youth,
Worn by long years of solitude and duty,
I have no bloom to offer thee in truth.

Yet, since these eyes of mine have never wandered,
Still may they gleam with long forgotten light.
Since in no wanton way my youth was squandered,
Some sense of youth still clings to me to-night.

Thy lips are fresh as dew on budding roses,
The gold of dawn still lingers in thy hair,
While the abandonment of sleep discloses
How every attitude of youth is fair.

Thou art so pale, I hardly dare caress thee,
Too brown my fingers show against the white.
Ahi, the glory, that I should possess thee,
Ahi, the grief, but for a single night!

The tulip tree has pallid golden flowers
That grow more rosy as their petals fade;
Such is the splendour of my evening hours
Whose time of youth was wasted in the shade.

I shall not wait to see to-morrow's morning,
Too bright the golden dawn for me, - too bright, -
How could I bear thine eyes' unconscious scorning
Of what so pleased thee in the dimmer light?

It may be wine had brought some brief illusion,
Filling thy brain with rainbow fantasy,
Or youth, with moonlight, making sweet collusion,
Threw an alluring glamour over me

Therefore I leave thee softly, to awaken
When the first sun rays warm thy blue-veined breast,
Smiling and all unknowing I have taken
The poppied drink that brings me endless rest.

Thus would I have thee rise; thy fancy laden
With the vague sweetness of the bygone night,
Thinking of me as some consenting maiden,
Whose beauty blossomed first for thy delight.

While I, if any kindly visions hover
Around the silence of my last repose,
Shall dream of thee, my pale and radiant lover,
Who made my life so lovely at its close!

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