Oh! my loved one, I know not what fire consumes me, my mouth is parched, my heart is throbbing. What is this ill for which I know no cure? The star of night whose rays should give my soul repose by heralding the advent of him for whom I wait, has not yet risen
. Unhappy that I am, he for whom my heart is watching, whom my lips desire, from whom my parched bosom longs to receive life, will not come.
(Voyage au Pays du Haschich: 1
Jacolliot, Paris, 1883)MAIDEN
| I said to myself: I will tread the lotus-bordered path
. But alas! I have found there the serpent of love and his cruel tooth. Can it be that the moons rays, so cold by nature and so sweet to mortals, have lit the fire which consumes me within?|| 2|
| The night-breeze, cool, and heavy with the scent of flowers, seems to me now like a scorching flame. He alone occupies all my thoughts and I have no will but his. He fills my whole being, and my soul is bereft of energy and strength.|| 3|
| I tremble and am distraught; my sight fails me and I feel as though about to die.|| 4|
THE LOVER Sweet one, I am here, and scarcely yet does the moon, whose shining orb should be the signal of my coming, begin to show herself. And see, yon fair planet whose brightness is revealed in thy dear face, now is veiled by clouds, like thy face when shaded with the tresses of thy hair. Her disc stands forth like a bow in the heavens and resembles the gleaming gold which decks thy neck.
| The streams of water which fall from the clouds are as slender and graceful as thy limbs.|| 6|
| On the dark background of the clouds a long line of swans advances rivalled in whiteness by thy dazzling teeth.|| 7|
THE MAID Oh! light of my life, speak on, speak on; the sound of thy voice is as welcome to my heart as cooling showers to a sun-dried land.
THE LOVER I thirst for thy kisses; let me lay my lips on thine which are as fresh and ruddy as the pomegranate.
THE MAID Ah! I die within thine arms.
THE LOVER Let me press thy lovely breasts, firm as the golden apples in the garden of Cama and sweet to smell as the jasmine-flower.
THE MAID I am thine, oh my loved one; in thy embrace, mine eyes are lost in vacancy and life begins to leave me; oh, holy Goddess, Lakmé, Mother of Love, does one feel such pleasure in dying of love?
THE LOVER No, thou wilt not die; tis life which in long waves surges into thine entrails athirst for pleasure.
THE MAID Oh! oh! oh! my loved one!
THE LOVER Still let me embrace thee.
THE MAID I am one with thee; ah! press me tighter in thine arms and let an amorous embrace unite us like the tree and bark.
THE LOVER I fear lest I may hurt thy fair breasts or bruise thy delicate limbs.
THE MAID Have no fear
. go on, my lion, let me feel thy vigour, pierce me as the huntsman pierces with his arrow the heart of the faithful hind in the thickets
. pain gives still a greater zest to pleasure.
THE LOVER Oh! joy divine! And I am the first to roll thy sweet body on a bed of dried leaves
THE MAID Kill me, come, kill me by pleasure, kill me by love, kill me by joy.
THE LOVER Nay, rather live, in order that we may repeat these hours of maddest passion.
THE MAID Oh! kill me rather than forget me.
THE LOVER Forget thee! forget thee! ah! read in mine eyes the wild pleasure which thou givest me.
THE MAID Ah, what is this strange quivering
THE LOVER Tis the pleasure of love.
THE MAID My head swims, my lips grow cold
Cama, mighty God, help me! I am dying.
THE LOVER No! for a new life begins to circulate in thy womb.
THE MAID Where am I, ye Gods?
THE LOVER Fear naught, for I am near thee.
THE MAID I am afraid.
THE LOVER What canst thou dread within thy lovers arms?
THE MAID Ah, I remember
. thy kisses burn me still; leave me not.
THE LOVER I watch over thee as a mother watches over her child.
THE MAID The horrid Pisatchas may play me some evil trick.
THE LOVER They can do naught to thee here upon my heart.
THE MAID Sing to me, my loved one, for the sound of thy voice gives me confidence.
THE LOVER Tis the season the most propitious for love, the leaves are fallen into the pools and cover the waters once so bright and limpid and now dulled by the streams; these clouds, driven by the wind and on which the moonlight plays, clash together in the air like elephants fighting in the forest with their dazzling tusks.
THE MAID And it is the strongest which oercomes the others in the forest glade. And so thou hast made me yield to thee on this bed of dried leaves.
THE LOVER I have won thee by love, not overcoming thee by force.
THE MAID Yet believe me, my loved one, that love is willing to find itself tamed and subdued by force.
THE LOVER I know of no time more propitious for love than this stormy season which so often sees the seven-coloured bow appearing in the sky, like the sacred sign which crowns thy forehead. At sight of the stormy sky, the peacocks loudly voice their joy, uttering shrill cries and gathering together; they rear aloft their tail heavy and shapeless with the rain, and prancing beside their companions, imitate the movements of a dancer. Some, under the shelter of the terraces, stalk proudly and display the varied colours of their brilliant plumage; while others, caught by the storm on the tops of the trees, gather the treasures of their plumage beneath their moistened wings, and, their fair body all quivering, descend to the green carpet of the ground.
| The rain ceased for an instant, and all around the soft fresh air is balmy with the scent of sandal and filled with the intoxicating perfumes of Eastern flowers, a delicious air which dries the sweat of pleasure on our limbs and foretells a fresh fall of rain to follow. What would autumn be, deprived of this beneficent breeze? No, there is nothing to be preferred to this perfumed wind which comes to disturb the calm of our intercourse, and, after the sweet fatigue of love, gently refreshes our burning limbs.|| 42|
THE MAID Oh! sing again.
THE LOVER See, my sweetest, the heaven laden with clouds, like some deep lake hung above our heads whose waters threaten each instant to break their banks; see too these clouds which the moon encircles with a silver girdle; they bring coolness to this parched earth.
| Oh! how I love this season of the year, bringing in its train the thunder and the storm; it wakes fond lovers from their slumber, and compels them to seek a shelter from their fear in one anothers arms, and thus doubles the transports of their love.|| 45|
THE MAID Oh! my dearest, my sweetest, who art to my soul as the cloud to the thirsty earth, this season has one defect, for with a damp and gloomy veil it hides from our gaze that moon which shines like thy fair face. When that planet, the worlds sweet torch, is revealed between the clouds, the fascinated watcher seems to see a friend come back from the far-off land. The moon is the witness of the groans of the maid separated from her lover. Oh, moon! thou charm of secret meetings, how fair thou art when the lover remains faithful and hastens to his mistress at the appointed hour; how sad and gloomy when the abandoned mistress follows thy course with her eyes, as she counts the hours which slowly pass, when the faithless lover has forgotten her whom once he loved.
THE LOVER My lifes charm, my beloved, I swear that thou shall never count those hours, I swear that thou shall never have cause to follow with lonely eyes the course of the moon, and that thy lover shall always come before the hour of meeting.
THE MAID Ah! I need to hear thine oaths; swear that thou wilt never leave me.
THE LOVER I swear to love thee always, and may my soul take life again in the body of a vampire, whose only food is the bodies of those whom he drags from their tombs, if I ever fail to my oath.
THE MAID I believe thee, beloved one.
THE LOVER Come let us enter again this shady dell and seal our vows with fresh kisses.