Verse > Anthologies > T. R. Smith, ed. > Poetica Erotica: A Collection of Rare and Curious Amatory Verse
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T. R. Smith, comp.  Poetica Erotica: Rare and Curious Amatory Verse.  1921–22.
 
The Lament of Yasmini, the Dancing-girl
By Laurence Hope (Adela Florence Nicolson) (1865–1904)
 
(From Last Poems, 1905)

AH, what hast thou done with that Lover of mine?
  The Lover who only cared for thee?
Mine for a handful of nights, and thine
  For the Nights that Are and the Days to Be,
The scent of the Champa lost its sweet—        5
  So sweet it was in the Times that Were!—
Since His alone, of the numerous feet
  That climb my steps, have returned not there.
    Ahi, Yasmini, return not there!
 
Art thou yet athrill at the touch of His hand,        10
  Art thou still athirst for His waving hair?
Nay, passion thou never couldst understand,
  Life’s heights and depths thou wouldst never dare.
The great Things left thee untouched, unmoved,
  The Lesser Things had thy constant care.        15
Ah, what hast thou done with the Lover I loved,
  Who found me wanting, and thee so fair?
    Ahi, Yasmini, He found her fair!
 
Nay, nay, the greatest of all was thine;
  The love of the One whom I craved for so,        20
But much I doubt if thou couldst divine
  The Grace and Glory of Love, or know
The worth of the One whom thine arms embraced.
  I may misjudge thee, but who can tell?
So hard it is, for the one displaced,        25
  To weigh the worth of a rival’s spell.
    Ahi, Yasmini, thy rival’s spell!
 
And Thou, whom I loved: have the seasons brought
  That fair content, which allured Thee so?
Is it all that Thy delicate fancy wrought?        30
  Yasmini wonders; she may not know.
Yet never the Stars desert the sky,
  To fade away in the desolate Dawn,
But Yasmini watches their glory die,
  And mourns for her own Bright Star withdrawn.        35
    Ahi, Yasmini, the lonely dawn!
 
Ah, never the lingering gold dies down
  In a sunset flare of resplendent light,
And never the palm-tree’s feathery crown
  Uprears itself to the shadowy night,        40
But Yasmini thinks of those evenings past,
  When she prayed the glow of the glimmering West
To vanish quickly, that night, at last,
  Might bring Thee back to her waiting breast.
    Ahi, Yasmini, how sweet that rest!        45
 
Yet I would not say that I always weep;
  The force, that made such a desperate thing
Of my love for Thee, has not fallen asleep;
  The blood still leaps, and the senses sing,
While other passion has oft availed.        50
  (Other Love—Ah, my One, forgive!—)
To aid, when Churus and Opium failed;—
  I could not suffer so much and live.
    Ahi, Yasmini, who had to live?
 
Nay, why should I say “Forgive” to Thee?        55
  To whom my lovers and I are naught,
Who granted some passionate nights to me,
  Then rose and left me with never a thought!
And yet, Ah, yet, for those Nights that Were,
  Thy passive limbs and thy loose loved hair,        60
I would pay, as I have paid, all these days,
  With the love that kills and the thought that slays.
    Ahi, Yasmini, thy youth it slays!
 
The youthful widow, with shaven hair,
  Whose senses ache for the love of a man,        65
The young Priest, knowing that women are fair,
  Who stems his longing as best he can,
These suffer not as I suffer for Thee;
  For the Soul desires what the senses crave,
There will never be pleasure or peace for me,        70
  Since He who wounded, alone could save.
    Ahi, Yasmini, He will not save!
 
The torchlight flares, and the lovers lean
  Towards Yasmini, with yearning eyes,
Who dances, wondering what they mean,        75
  And gives cold kisses, and scant replies.
They talk of Love, she withholds the name,—
  (Love came to her as a Flame of Fire!)
From things that are only a weary shame;
  Trivial Vanity;—light Desire.        80
    Ahi, Yasmini, the light Desire!
 
Yasmini bends to the praise of men,
  And looks in the mirror, upon her hand, 1
To curse the beauty that failed her then—
  Ah, none of her lovers can understand!        85
How her whole life hung on that beauty’s power,
  The spell that waned at the final test,
The charm that paled in the vital hour,—
  Which won so many,—yet lost the best!
    Ahi, Yasmini, who lost the best!        90
 
She leaves the dancing to reach the roof,
  With the lover who claims the passing hour,
Her lips are his, but her eyes aloof
  While the starlight falls in a silver shower.
Let him take what pleasure, what love, he may,        95
  He, too, will suffer e’er life be spent,—
But Yasmini’s soul has wandered away
  To join the Lover, who came,—and went!
    Ahi, Yasmini, He came,—and went!
 
Note 1. Indian women wear a small mirror in a ring on their thumbs. [back]
 
 
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