Flint and Feather

by Emily Pauline Johnson


 

THE KING’S CONSORT


 

I

Love, was it yesternoon, or years agone,
        You took in yours my hands,
And placed me close beside you on the throne
        Of Oriental lands?

The truant hour came back at dawn to-day,
5

        Across the hemispheres,
And bade my sleeping soul retrace its way
        These many hundred years.

And all my wild young life returned, and ceased
        The years that lie between,

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When you were King of Egypt, and The East,
        And I was Egypt’s queen.

II

I feel again the lengths of silken gossamer enfold
My body and my limbs in robes of emerald and gold.
I feel the heavy sunshine, and the weight of languid heat
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That crowned the day you laid the royal jewels at my feet.

You wound my throat with jacinths, green and glist’ning serpent-             wise,
My hot, dark throat that pulsed beneath the ardour of your eyes;             [Page 149]
And centuries have failed to cool the memory of your hands
That bound about my arms those massive, pliant golden bands.
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You wreathed around my wrists long ropes of coral and of jade,
And beaten gold that clung like coils of kisses love-inlaid;
About my naked ankles tawny topaz chains you wound,
With clasps of carven onyx, ruby-rimmed and golden bound.

But not for me the Royal Pearls to bind about my hair,
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“Pearls were too passionless,” you said, for one like me to wear,
I must have all the splendour, all the jewels warm as wine,
But pearls so pale and cold were meant for other flesh than mine.

But all the blood-warm beauty of the gems you though my due
Were pallid as a pearl beside the love I gave to you;
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O! Love of mine come back across the years that lie between,
When you were King of Egypt—Dear, and I was Egypt’s Queen.             [Page 150]