This Month the Almonds Bloom at Kandahar

A poem by Laurence Hope (Adela Florence Cory Nicolson)

I hate this City, seated on the Plain,
The clang and clamour of the hot Bazar,
Knowing, amid the pauses of my pain,
This month the Almonds bloom in Kandahar.

The Almond-trees, that sheltered my Delight,
Screening my happiness as evening fell.
It was well worth - that most Enchanted Night -
This life in torment, and the next in Hell!

People are kind to me; one More than Kind,
Her lashes lie like fans upon her cheek,
But kindness is a burden on my mind,
And it is weariness to hear her speak.

For though that Kaffir's bullet holds me here,
My thoughts are ever free, and wander far,
To where the Lilac Hills rise, soft and clear,
Beyond the Almond Groves of Kandahar.

He followed me to Sibi, to the Fair,
The Horse-fair, where he shot me weeks ago,
But since they fettered him I have no care
That my returning steps to health are slow.

They will not loose him till they know my fate,
And I rest here till I am strong to slay,
Meantime, my Heart's Delight may safely wait
Among the Almond blossoms, sweet as they.

That cursed Kaffir! Well, he won by day,
But I won, what I so desired, by night,
My arms held what his lack till Judgment Day!
Also, the game is not yet over - quite!

Wait, Amir Ali, wait till I come forth
To kill, before the Almond-trees are green,
To raze thy very Memory from the North,
So that thou art not, and thou hast not been!

Aha! Friend Amir Ali! it is Duty
To rid the World from Shiah dogs like thee,
They are but ill-placed moles on Islam's beauty,
Such as the Faithful cannot calmly see!

Also thy bullet hurts me not a little,
Thy Shiah blood might serve to salve the ill.
Maybe some Afghan Promises are brittle;
Never a Promise to oneself, to kill!

Now I grow stronger, I have days of leisure
To shape my coming Vengeance as I lie,
And, undisturbed by call of War or Pleasure,
Can dream of many ways a man may die.

I shall not torture thee, thy friends might rally,
Some Fate assist thee and prove false to me;
Oh! shouldst thou now escape me, Amir Ali,
This would torment me through Eternity!

Aye, Shuffa-Jan, I will be quiet indeed,
Give here the Hakim's powder if thou wilt,
And thou mayst sit, for I perceive thy need,
And rest thy soft-haired head upon my quilt.

Thy gentle love will not disturb a mind
That loves and hates beneath a fiercer Star.
Also, thou know'st, my Heart is left behind,
Among the Almond-trees of Kandahar!

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