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Poem by Menella Bute Smedley
Under the straight, still Indian sun Went forth a pompous train, To see some due obeisance done For England's name and reign. Gaily the leader stooped and smiled Over his young wife's breast, For there she hid her firstborn child With a whispered “Rest, love, rest!” Through shining tracts of silk and gold, Through courts that spread and blaze, Like vast flowers opening, fold by fold, Into a world of rays. Through dream-tints such as swim and float O'er eyes that shut sun-blind, Through air that feels each trumpet note Rush through it like a wind; Between live walls of swarthy eyes Proudly the rulers march, The pale sweep of the sultry skies Was their triumphal arch. But the babe saw only that white breast Wherein it softly lay, And heard the whisper, “Rest, love, rest!” And knew not night from day. No hint from swarthy lip or eye Betrayed the brooding crime; O wife, young wife, make haste to die Before you see that time! Never a minute to kiss and part When her true lord was slain, She set her babe against her heart Before it broke in twain; And she hid by day, and by night she fled From that unholy place, Where to the skies her tombless dead Looked up with silent face. When she came to the long sea-sand, Down she sat and sighed. “Husband, husband, reach your hand! Would that I too had died! “Oh, never for me the dawn will rise But I shall see that day When the cruel sunbeams smote your eyes, And they did not shrink away. “And through the night I shall always hear My horse's hurrying feet, And the shudders of my ceaseless fear, And my babe's low breathing sweet; “And all the sounds and all the sights Till the kind hour when I die Shall thrust those dreadful days and nights In the wounds of memory.” But the babe saw only that white breast Wherein it softly lay, And heard the whisper, “Rest, love, rest!” And knew not night from day. Oh, must not mother-love be strong To cover its darling thus? Is there never an angel clasp and song To do as much for us?
Menella Bute Smedley
Menella Bute Smedley's other poems:
English Poetry. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org