ZIRA: IN CAPTIVITY, translated into English by: Laurence Hope (1865-1904)

LOVE me a little, Lord, or let me go,
I am so weary walking to and fro
Through all your lonely halls that were so sweet
Did they but echo to your coming feet.

When by the flowered scrolls of lace-like stone
Our women’s windows — I am left alone,
Across the yellow Desert, looking forth,
I see the purple hills towards the north.

Behind those jagged Mountains’ lilac crest
Once lay the captive bird’s small rifled nest.
There was my brother slain, my sister bound;
His blood, her tears, drunk by the thirsty ground.

Then, while the burning village smoked on high,
And desecrated all the peaceful sky,
They took us captive, us, born frank and free,
On fleet, strong camels through the sandy sea.

Yet, when we rested, night-times, on the sand
By the rare waters of this weary land,
Our captors, ere the camp was wrapped in sleep,
Talked, and I listened, and forgot to weep.

“Is he not brave and fair?” they asked, “our King,
Slender as one tall palm-tree by a spring;
Erect, serene, with gravely brilliant eyes,
As deeply dark as are those desert skies.

“Truly no bitter fate,” they said, and smiled,
“Awaits the beauty of this captured child!”
Then something in my heart began to sing,
And secretly I longed to see the King.

Sometimes the other maidens sat in tears,
Sometimes, consoled, they jested at their fears,
Musing what lovers Time to them would bring;
But I was silent, thinking of the King.

Till, when the weary endless sands were passed,
When, far to south, the city rose at last,
All speech forsook me and my eyelids fell,
Since I already loved my Lord so well.

Then the division: some were sent away
To merchants in the city; some, they say,
To summer palaces, beyond the walls.
But me they took straight to the Sultan’s halls.

Every morning I would wake and say
“Ah, sisters, shall I see our Lord to-day?”
The women robed me, perfumed me, and smiled;
“When were his feet unfleet to pleasure, child?”

And tales they told me of his deeds in war,
Of how his name was reverenced afar;
And, crouching closer in the lamp’s faint glow,
They told me of his beauty, speaking low.

What need, what need? the women wasted art;
I loved you with every fibre of my heart
Already. My God! when did I not love you,
In life, in death, when shall I not love you?

You never seek me. All day long I lie
Watching the changes of the far-off sky
Behind the lattice-work of carven stone.
And all night long, alas! I lie alone.

But you come never. Ah, my Lord the King,
How can you find it well to do this thing?
Come once, come only: sometimes, as I lie,
I doubt if I shall see you first, or die.

Ah, could I hear your footsteps at the door
Hallow the lintel and caress the floor,
Then I might drink your beauty, satisfied,
Die of delight, ere you could reach my side.

Alas, you come not, Lord: life’s flame burns low,
Faint for a loveliness it may not know,
Faint for your face, Oh, come — come soon to me —
Lest, though you should not, Death should, set me free!

WE’LL GO NO MORE A-ROVING Poetry/Poem by George Gordon (Lord) Byron (1788-1824)

SO, we’ll go no more a-roving
So late into the night,
Though the heart be still as loving,
And the moon be still as bright.

For the sword outwears its sheath,
And the soul wears out the breast,
And the heart must pause to breathe,
And love itself have a rest.

Though the night was made for loving,
And the day returns too soon,
Yet we’ll go no more a-roving
By the light of the moon.

THE TAVERN Poetry/Poem by Willa Cather (1873-1947)

IN the tavern of my heart
Many a one has sat before,
Drunk red wine and sung a stave,
And, departing, come no more.
When the night was cold without,
And the ravens croaked of storm,
They have sat them at my hearth,
Telling me my house was warm.

As the lute and cup went round,
They have rhymed me well in lay;–
When the hunt was on at morn,
Each, departing, went his way.
On the walls, in compliment,
Some would scrawl a verse or two,
Some have hung a willow branch,
Or a wreath of corn-flowers blue.

Ah! my friend, when thou dost go,
Leave no wreath of flowers for me;
Not pale daffodils nor rue,
Violets nor rosemary.
Spill the wine upon the lamps,
Tread the fire, and bar the door;
So despoil the wretched place,
None will come forevermore.

TO MARGUERITE Poetry/Poem by Matthew Arnold (1822-1888)

YES: in the sea of life enisled,
With echoing straits between us thrown.
Dotting the shoreless watery wild,
We mortal millions live alone.
The islands feel the enclasping flow,
And then their endless bounds they know.

But when the moon their hollow lights,
And they are swept by balms of spring,
And in their glens, on starry nights,
The nightingales divinely sing;
And lovely notes, from shore to shore,
Across the sounds and channels pour;

O then a longing like despair
Is to their farthest caverns sent!
For surely once, they feel, we were
Parts of a single continent.
Now round us spreads the watery plain–
O might our marges meet again!

Who order’d that their longing’s fire
Should be, as soon as kindled, cool’d?
Who renders vain their deep desire?–
A God, a God their severence ruled;
And bade betwixt their shores to be
The unplumb’d, salt, estranging sea.

SONNETS FROM THE PORTUGUESE (III Poetry/Poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861)

GO from me. Yet I feel that I shall stand
Henceforward in thy shadow. Nevermore
Alone upon the threshold of my door
Of individual life I shall command
The uses of my soul, nor lift my hand
Serenely in the sunshine as before,
Without the sense of that which I forbore–
Thy touch upon the palm. The widest land
Doom takes to part us, leaves thy heart in mine
With pulses that beat double. What I do
And what I dream include thee, as the wine
Must taste of its own grapes. And when I sue
God for myself, He hears that name of thine,
And sees within my eyes the tears of two.

REMORSE Poetry/Poem by Pierre Louÿs (1870-1925)

AT first I would not reply, and my shame showed upon my cheeks, and the beating of my heart brought pain to my breasts.

Then I resisted, I told him “No! No!” — I turned my head away, and his kiss did not open my lips, — nor love, my tight-closed knees.

Then he begged me to forgive him, kissed my hair, I felt his burning breath, and he went away…. Now I am alone.

I gaze upon the empty place, the deserted wood, the trampled earth. And I bite my fingers until they bleed, and I stifle my sobs in the grass.


LAMENT Poetry/Poem by Isabella Holt

HE is gone with his blue eyes,
Whom I love most,–
Gone among the cliffs and fog
On a far coast,–

He who scatters wit and pride
From his keen tongue,
He who finds himself so deep
And is so young;–

He whose joy is in sweet words
And kindliness,–
Whom old men love, and little boys
No whit the less. . . .

Rooms are silent that were glad
Seven days ago.
I can feel across my heart
The great tides flow.

Love, the blind importunate,
Craves touch and sight;
Briefly parting, feels and fears
Eternal night.

Fear is sweeping on the wind
Like acrid foam.
I have said farewell to peace
Till he comes home.

HUMILITY, (from “Northern Lass,” 1632) by: Richard Brome (c. 1590-1652)

NOR Love nor Fate dare I accuse
For that my love did me refuse,
But oh! mine own unworthiness
That durst presume so mickle bliss.
It was too much for me to love
A man so like the gods above:
An angel’s shape, a saint-like voice,
Are too divine for human choice.

Oh had I wisely given my heart
For to have loved him but in part;
Sought only to enjoy his face,
Or any one peculiar grace
Of foot, of hand, of lip, or eye,–
I might have lived where now I die:
But I, presuming all to choose,
Am now condemned all to lose.

THE DESOLATE CITY Poetry/Poem by Wilfrid Scawen Blunt (1840-1922)

DARK to me is the earth. Dark to me are the heavens.
Where is she that I loved, the woman with eyes like stars?
Desolate are the streets. Desolate is the city.
A city taken by storm, where none are left but the slain.

Sadly I rose at dawn, undid the latch of my shutters,
Thinking to let in light, but I only let in love.
Birds in the boughs were awake; I listen’d to their chaunting;
Each one sang to his love; only I was alone.

This, I said in my heart, is the hour of life and of pleasure.
Now each creature on earth has his joy, and lives in the sun,
Each in another’s eyes finds light, the light of compassion,
This is the moment of pity, this is the moment of love.

Speak, O desolate city! Speak, O silence in sadness!
Where is she that I loved in my strength, that spoke to my soul?
Where are those passionate eyes that appeal’d to my eyes in passion?
Where is the mouth that kiss’d me, the breast I laid to my own?

Speak, thou soul of my soul, for rage in my heart is kindled.
Tell me, where didst thou flee in the day of destruction and fear?
See, my arms still enfold thee, enfolding thus all heaven,
See, my desire is fulfill’d in thee, for it fills the earth.

Thus in my grief I lamented. Then turn’d I from the window,
Turn’d to the stair, and the open door, and the empty street,
Crying aloud in my grief, for there was none to chide me,
None to mock my weakness, none to behold my tears.

Groping I went, as blind. I sought her house, my belovèd’s.
There I stopp’d at the silent door, and listen’d and tried the latch.
Love, I cried, dost thou slumber? This is no hour for slumber,
This is the hour of love, and love I bring in my hand.

I knew the house, with its windows barr’d, and its leafless fig-tree,
Climbing round by the doorstep the only one in the street;
I knew where my hope had climb’d to its goal and there encircled
All that those desolate walls once held, my belovèd’s heart.

There in my grief she consoled me. She loved me when I loved not.
She put her hand in my hand, and set her lips to my lips.
She told me all her pain and show’d me all her trouble.
I, like a fool, scarce heard, hardly return’d her kiss.

Love, thy eyes were like torches. They changed as I beheld them.
Love, thy lips were like gems, the seal thou settest on my life.
Love, if I loved not then, behold this hour thy vengeance;
This is the fruit of thy love and thee, the unwise grown wise.

Weeping strangled my voice. I call’d out, but none answer’d;
Blindly the windows gazed back at me, dumbly the door;
She whom I love, who loved me, look’d not on my yearning,
Gave me no more her hands to kiss, show’d me no more her soul.

Therefore the earth is dark to me, the sunlight blackness,
Therefore I go in tears and alone, by night and day;
Therefore I find no love in heaven, no light, no beauty,
A heaven taken by storm where none are left but the slain!

CHANCE MEETINGS Poetry/Poem by Conrad Aiken (1889-1973)

IN the mazes of loitering people, the watchful and furtive,
The shadows of tree-trunks and shadows of leaves,
In the drowse of the sunlight, among the low voices,
I suddenly face you,

Your dark eyes return for a space from her who is with you,
They shine into mine with a sunlit desire,
They say an ‘I love you, what star do you live on?’
They smile and then darken,

And silent, I answer ‘You too–I have known you,–I love you!–‘
And the shadows of tree-trunks and shadows of leaves
Interlace with low voices and footsteps and sunlight
To divide us forever.


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