The Regret of the Ranee in the Hall of Peacocks

A poem by Laurence Hope (Adela Florence Cory Nicolson)

This man has taken my Husband's life
And laid my Brethren low,
No sister indeed, were I, no wife,
To pardon and let him go.

Yet why does he look so young and slim
As he weak and wounded lies?
How hard for me to be harsh to him
With his soft, appealing eyes.

His hair is ruffled upon the stone
And the slender wrists are bound,
So young! and yet he has overthrown
His scores on the battle ground.

Would I were only a slave to-day,
To whom it were right and meet
To wash the stains of the War away,
The dust from the weary feet.

Were I but one of my serving girls
To solace his pain to rest!
Shake out the sand from the soft loose curls,
And hold him against my breast!

Have we such beauty around our Throne?
Such lithe and delicate strength?
Would God that I were the senseless stone
To support his slender length!

I hate those wounds that trouble my sight,
Unknown! how I wish you lay,
Alone in my silken tent to-night
While I charmed the pain away.

I would lay you down on the Royal bed,
I would bathe your wounds with wine,
And setting your feet against my head
Dream you were lover of mine.

My Crown is heavy upon my hair,
The Jewels weigh on my breast,
All I would leave, with delight, to share
Your pale and passionate rest!

But hands grow restless about their swords,
Lips murmur below their breath,
"The Queen is silent too long!" "My Lords,
- Take him away to death!"

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