A Poem by Laurence Hope (Adela Florence Cory Nicolson)

 Oh Amber Eyes, oh Golden Eyes!
 Oh Eyes so softly gay!
 Wherein swift fancies fall and rise,
 Grow dark and fade away.
 Eyes like a little limpid pool
 That holds a sunset sky,
 While on its surface, calm and cool,
 Blue water lilies lie.

 Oh Tender Eyes, oh Wistful Eyes,
 You smiled on me one day,
 And all my life, in glad surprise,
 Leapt up and pleaded “Stay!”
 Alas, oh cruel, starlike eyes,
 So grave and yet so gay,
 You went to lighten other skies,
 Smiled once and passed away.

 Oh, you whom I name “Golden Eyes,”
 Perhaps I used to know
 Your beauty under other skies
 In lives lived long ago.
 Perhaps I rowed with galley slaves,
 Whose labour never ceased,
 To bring across Phoenician waves
 Your treasure from the East.

 Maybe you were an Emperor then
 And I a favourite slave;
 Some youth, whom from the lions’ den
 You vainly tried to save!
 Maybe I reigned, a mighty King,
 The early nations knew,
 And you were some slight captive thing,
 Some maiden whom I slew.

 Perhaps, adrift on desert shores
 Beside some shipwrecked prow,
 I gladly gave my life for yours.
 Would I might give it now!
 Or on some sacrificial stone
 Strange Gods we satisfied,
 Perhaps you stooped and left a throne
 To kiss me ere I died.

 Perhaps, still further back than this,
 In times ere men were men,
 You granted me a moment’s bliss
 In some dark desert den,
 When, with your amber eyes alight
 With iridescent flame,
 And fierce desire for love’s delight,
 Towards my lair you came

 Ah laughing, ever-brilliant eyes,
 These things men may not know,
 But something in your radiance lies,
 That, centuries ago,
 Lit up my life in one wild blaze
 Of infinite desire
 To revel in your golden rays,
 Or in your light expire.

 If this, oh Strange Ringed Eyes, be true,
 That through all changing lives
 This longing love I have for you
 Eternally survives,
 May I not sometimes dare to dream
 In some far time to be
 Your softly golden eyes may gleam
 Responsively on me?

 Ah gentle, subtly changing eyes,
 You smiled on me one day,
 And all my life in glad surprise
 Leaped up, imploring “Stay!”
 Alas, alas, oh Golden Eyes,
 So cruel and so gay,
 You went to shine in other skies,
 Smiled once and passed away.

Laurence Hope Notes: Golden Eyes