Madison Julius Cawein

(1865-1914 / the United States)

The Slave - Poem by Madison Julius Cawein

He waited till within her tower
Her taper signalled him the hour.

He was a prince both fair and brave.-
What hope that he would love
her
slave!

He of the Persian dynasty;
And she a Queen of Araby!-

No Peri singing to a star
Upon the sea were lovelier….

I helped her drop the silken rope.
He clomb, aflame with love and hope.

I drew the dagger from my gown
And cut the ladder, leaning down.

Oh, wild his face, and wild the fall:
Her cry was wilder than them all.

I heard her cry; I heard him moan;
And stood as merciless as stone.

The eunuchs came: fierce scimitars
Stirred in the torch-lit corridors.

She spoke like one who speaks in sleep,
And bade me strike or she would leap.

I bade her leap: the time was short:
And kept the dagger for my heart.

She leapt…. I put their blades aside,
And smiling in their faces-died.


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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, September 21, 2010



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