The First Lover

A poem by Laurence Hope (Adela Florence Cory Nicolson)

As o'er the vessel's side she leant,
She saw the swimmer in the sea
With eager eyes on her intent,
"Come down, come down and swim with me."

So weary was she of her lot,
Tired of the ship's monotony,
She straightway all the world forgot
Save the young swimmer in the sea

So when the dusky, dying light
Left all the water dark and dim,
She softly, in the friendly night,
Slipped down the vessel's side to him.

Intent and brilliant, brightly dark,
She saw his burning, eager eyes,
And many a phosphorescent spark
About his shoulders fall and rise.

As through the hushed and Eastern night
They swam together, hand in hand,
Or lay and laughed in sheer delight
Full length upon the level sand.

"Ah, soft, delusive, purple night
Whose darkness knew no vexing moon!
Ah, cruel, needless, dawning light
That trembled in the sky too soon!"

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