Shemselnihar - Poem by George Meredith
O my lover! the night like a broad smooth wave
Bears us onward, and morn, a black rock, shines wet.
How I shuddered-I knew not that I was a slave,
Till I looked on thy face:- then I writhed in the net.
Then I felt like a thing caught by fire, that her star
Glowed dark on the bosom of Shemselnihar.
And he came, whose I am: O my lover! he came:
And his slave, still so envied of women, was I:
And I turned as a hissing leaf spits from the flame,
Yes, I shrivelled to dust from him, haggard and dry.
O forgive her:- she was but as dead lilies are:
The life of her heart fled from Shemselnihar.
Yet with thee like a full throbbing rose how I bloom!
Like a rose by the fountain whose showering we hear,
As we lie, O my lover! in this rich gloom,
Smelling faint the cool breath of the lemon-groves near.
As we lie gazing out on that glowing great star -
Ah! dark on the bosom of Shemselnihar.
Yet with thee am I not as an arm of the vine,
Firm to bind thee, to cherish thee, feed thee sweet?
Swear an oath on my lip to let none disentwine
The life that here fawns to give warmth to thy feet.
I on thine, thus! no more shall that jewelled Head jar
The music thou breathest on Shemselnihar.
Far away, far away, where the wandering scents
Of all flowers are sweetest, white mountains among,
There my kindred abide in their green and blue tents:
Bear me to them, my lover! they lost me so young.
Let us slip down the stream and leap steed till afar
None question thy claim upon Shemselnihar.
O that long note the bulbul gave out-meaning love!
O my lover, hark to him and think it my voice!
The blue night like a great bell-flower from above
Drooping low and gold-eyed: O, but hear him rejoice!
Can it be? 'twas a flash! that accurst scimiter
In thought even cuts thee from Shemselnihar.
Yes, I would that, less generous, he would oppress,
He would chain me, upbraid me, burn deep brands for hate,
Than with this mask of freedom and gorgeousness
Bespangle my slavery, mock my strange fate.
Would, would, would, O my lover, he knew-dared debar
Thy coming, and earn curse of Shemselnihar!
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