Menella Bute Smedley

Two Journeys

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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?

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Menella Bute Smedley