An Eastern Song of Love

Part I
The Bride
Wake is my heart tho’ sleep hath sealed mine eyes
Love cannot rest.
What voice is this which doth the night surprise
It stirs my breast.
Sweet thro’ my slumber falls it on mine ear:
Its music like celestial bells I hear.
The Bridegroom
Open to me, my love, my undefiled!
Wake to my woes!
Cold is the breath of night, the winds blow wild,
With frosts and snows.
Open to me, my sister! O, my dove,
Wake to the wooing of immortal love!
Have I not shown to thee the living deeps
Of deathless love?
Love that nor slumbers, no, but vigil keeps,
Nor false could prove.
Has it not been before thine eyes unveiled
When ruthless foes thy friendless soul assailed?
Thro’ cataracts, whose noise my soul appalled,
I passed for thee,
Where deep to deep unfathomable called,
Thro’ wrath’s wild sea;
And where forsaken and unheard by God
Alone death’s solitudes for thee I trod.
Love quenchless could not, would not be denied;
Let come what may
Drunk must the chalice be from death’s dark tide;
The sword must slay,
Else must the captive in the captor’s chain
A helpless slave for evermore remain.
But now the mighty victory is gained.
The field is won,
The bitter cup of judgment has been drained,
The glorious sun
Of love eternal crowns the heaven’s height
Cloudless in all its majesty and might.
By all the sorrows thro’ which love has passed,
The shame and scorn,
By the fierce fury of wrath’s righteous blast
In meekness borne,
By all my woes unknowable and known,
Not thy Beloved leave in midnight lone!
Open to me, thou fairest of the fair,
For I have come
Far thro’ the night that I might with thee share
Thy tranquil home.
Open, for I have knocked so long and loud
Girt by the moonless macerating cloud.
Lonely my way since light of day was quenched,
By night beset!
My weary head with heavy dew is drenched,
My locks are wet;
Across the starless welkin vapours creep—
Must I rejected lonely vigil keep?
Behold I stand before the cruel gate
That love defies!
Abroad I send my cry, I watch, I wait,
No voice replies.
Must I my long and lonely way retrace
While angry lightnings the deep darkness lace?
To look upon Thy face I left the land
That knows no night,
Where the fair firmament is brightly spanned
With living light.
From thence for thee my love hath me exiled—
Open to me, my, dove, my undefiled!
The Bride
I heard His voice. I gave Him no reply,
But lazily drowsed,
As tho’ regardless of His plight while I
Was haply housed;
And when at length I rose, He had withdrawn,
Nor wist I whither my Beloved had gone.
I sought Him, but I found Him not; I called,
He answered not.
The silence of the night my soul appalled.
The watchmen caught
Me wandering in the darksome streets astray,
They smote me roughly, took my veil away.
I charge you, daughters of Jerusalem,
When ye shall find
Him whose fair image like a priceless gem
My soul hath shrined,
Who hath no peer in earth or heaven above,
I pray you, tell Him I am sick of love.
The Daughters of Jerusalem
What is thy well-Beloved than others more,
Thou wondrous fair?
What glory has He whom thou dost adore?
His grace declare,
That we thy wandering feet may help to guide:
Pray, thee, the secret to our souls confide.
The Bride
White is my well-Beloved with health aglow,
And girt with might,
More pure in nature than the driven snow,
Or heaven’s own light;
Chief where ten thousand noble princes meet,
Beyond description infinitely sweet.
His head is as the finest gold, a spring
Of wisdom rare;
His hair is black as is the raven’s wing,
His visage fair;
His eyes beam bright with love and tenderness,
The Centre peerless among God’s noblesse.
His cheeks are beds of spices whose perfume
My soul o’erpowers;
His lips are lilies whose immortal bloom
Drops myrrhic showers;
His hand gold rings and set with beryl bright;
His glory puts to shame the stars of night.
Most sweet His mouth, a mine of princely grace
With truth combined;
Lofty His brow, and shines His glorious face
The sun to blind.
But how describe perfections without end?
This my Beloved is, and this my Friend!
Part II
The Bridegroom
How beautiful, my undefiled, art thou!
Beyond compare!
Within thy ringlets is thy beauteous brow
Surpassing fair!
Clear as the sun that rides the azure heights!
Fair as the moon that rules the silent nights!
How better is thy love, my spouse, than wine!
Thine ointments smell
Better than spices all! Those eyes of thine
Praise far excel!
Like to the honeycomb thy lips drop sweet!
Thy mouth with milk and honey is replete!
The Bride
Oh, that thou wert as brother unto me!
Unshamed my face
When in the highway I should meet with thee,
And thee embrace,
No need should I have then to veil mine eyes,
For never witnesses would me despise.
Oh, set me as a seal upon thy heart
And on thine arm,
For not another has the sacred art
My soul to charm.
Thou, only thou canst claim me as thine own,
Thine, thine am I, Beloved! Thine alone!
Love is more puissant than dreaded death,
From which men flee;
Within me is the endless life and breath
Derived from thee;
And thou my Star art thro’ the lone dark night,
My glorious Sun, my everlasting Light!
Cruel is jealousy as is the grave,
A flame of fire!
If as the price of love one freely gave
His goods entire,
Scorned would such barter be as worse than nought,
For not by all the world could love be bought.
Love not by many waters could be quenched.
Tho’ floods arise
Like billows black, and earth itself be drenched,
Love all defies;
Therefore I lay on my Beloved’s breast
A trustful head, and thus securely rest.
The Bridegroom
All fair art thou, my love! In thee is found
Nor spot nor stain!
A tower of ivory thy neck! And bound
With golden chain
My soul eternally is unto thine,
As is thy soul for evermore to mine.
Within the heart of her who gave thee birth
Thou hast the throne;
Crowned where the glorious daughters of the earth
Glad thee enzone.
Bright as the sun when morn has climbed the hill,
And as a bannered army terrible.
As among thorns the lily, so among
The daughters fair
Art thou, whose virtues wonderful and strong
My soul ensnare.
Of thy fair countenance the mystic art
Has captivated mine admiring heart.
Part III
The Bride
Hark! ’tis the voice of my Belov’d that breaks
From yonder hills,
Thro’ verdant valleys, and from golden peaks,
It sweetly thrills
My soul, that thro’ a long dark night and lone
The sorrow of a hope deferred hath known.
He speaks! That voice! Oh, how could I mistake
Its tender tone
So sweet! So strong! My inmost soul to wake!
That voice alone
In heaven or earth my soul delights to hear!
Once more it falls upon my wakeful ear.
The Bridegroom
Arise, my love, my fair one, come away!
The night is past.
The sun has climbed the mountains, and the day
Has dawned at last.
The frosts and snows of winter are no more,
Stilled are the tempests, and the rains are o’er.
The Flowers appear upon the earth and shed
Their perfume far,
Deceit, oppression, hatred, pride, are dead,
And curse of war,
The birds awake the echoes, and their song
Thrills thro’ the welkin blue the whole day long.
With precious fruit the forest trees replete
Stretch out the hand:
The vines with tender grapes give odours sweet
And fill the land;
The turtle’s voice is heard; the battle’s roar
In our fair country shall be heard no more.
Come has the kingdom, and on Zion’s hill
The King doth reign,
And violence no longer blood shall spill
The land to stain;
And earth disburdened from the curse is gay—
Arise, My Love, My Fair One, Come Away!