Song of the Devoted Slave

A poem by Laurence Hope (Adela Florence Cory Nicolson)

There is one God: Mahomed his Prophet. Had I his power
I would take the topmost peaks of the snow-clad Himalayas,
And would range them around your dwelling, during the heats of summer,
To cool the airs that fan your serene and delicate presence,
Had I the power.

Your courtyard should ever be filled with the fleetest of camels
Laden with inlaid armour, jewels and trappings for horses,
Ripe dates from Egypt, and spices and musk from Arabia.
And the sacred waters of Zem-Zem well, transported thither,
Should bubble and flow in your chamber, to bathe the delicate
Slender and wayworn feet of my Lord, returning from travel,
Had I the power.


Fine woven silk, from the further East, should conceal your beauty,
Clinging around you in amorous folds; caressive, silken,
Beautiful long-lashed, sweet-voiced Persian boys should, kneeling, serve you,
And the floor beneath your sandalled feet should be smooth and golden,
Had I the power.

And if ever your clear and stately thoughts should turn to women,
Kings' daughters, maidens, should be appointed to your caresses,
That the youth and the strength of my Lord might never be wasted
In light or sterile love; but enrich the world with his children.
Had I the power.

Whilst I should sit in the outer court of the Water Palace
To await the time when you went forth, for Pleasure or Warfare,
Descending the stairs rose crowned, or armed and arrayed in purple, -
To mark the place where your steps have fallen, and kiss the footprints,
Had I the power.

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