Mine and Thine (1904)/Unbidden

This poem was not included in Mrs. Coates' collected Poems (1916, in 2 vols.).

Listen to this text, read by Jason in Panama (2.17 MB, help | file info or download)


As shakes the breast of giant Kaf
When Allah's thunders near resound,
So nations quail before my wrath,
And shudder at its sound.

The broad Euphrates bears my name
To Oman's waves triumphantly;
The lordly Indus sings my fame
To the wondering Indian sea.

For me Khorasan tempers steel,
The Turkoman rears matchless steeds;
Azerbijan grows me her wine,
And luscious fruit for summer needs;
My peacock throne burns like a gem,
And stars blaze in my diadem.

The mighty vie to honor me:
Kings at my table humbly sit,
And tributary satraps fret
When banished over-long from it.

What then have I to do with thoughts
That blanch the cheek and chill the blood?
Some wretched slave may quake and start,
Who hast'ning through Ghilan's lone wood,
Hears ravening jackals distant howl,—
But I? Nay, who doth not revere
The brazen doors my guards defend?
Who dares, unsummoned, enter here?

Shall baseless terrors mock my peace,
And chide desired Sleep away?
Forbidding her to close mine eyes,
Tormenting me when I would pray?
The years are long; yet time hath sped,
And Earth forgets what once she knew,
For hidden far beneath her view,
The grasses wave above my dread.

The guests attend me. Wake, my will!
Put off this garb of sullen gloom!
The dead may neither wound nor blight;
And vengeance slumbers in the tomb.
Be thou but firm, and all's secure:
Match well thy purpose to the hour,
Nor babble what is voiceless still,—
Not Eblis shall abase thy power!
········ Heard you a knocking then, my lords?
No?—and the wind, you think, sounds so?
To me 't was as a stroke of doom,
Reverberate from some long ago.

Well, since 't was nothing, speed the cheer!
Nor sit like phantoms dull and mute,
For something which ye did not hear.

Ye thought me weary? So: and then?
Am I not mortal like the rest?
May I not falter in my mirth,
Nor palsy every guest? . . .

That knocking!—Ah! you note it now.
It vexed me men should disallow
A sound more dread than frenzy's shriek,—
And prate of a wind-blown bough!
········ Thine errand, sirrah! Who's without
That may not be denied?
A stranger? And thou darest bring
His hests unbidden before thy king?

A stranger? Though his need be stout,
And stubborn as his pride,
Is 't here that he should seek our face?
Command him to the appointed place,
And those who should provide!

Ha! answerest thou? Not be denied?—
Grows life so worthless then?—
Go drive him hence, thou tiresome knave!
. . . Friends, to our feast again!
This imbecile hath broke the cheer;
But day is distant yet,
And ere her joyless flags appear,
We'll pay mad pleasure's debt.

Drink to all revels—foes to thought!
Drink, drink to poppy-trances deep!
And since from some sleep holds aloof,
To oblivion drink!—the dreamless sleep.

Again that sound affronts the air!
Ill-omened wretch, proclaim thy care—
My soul thy pallor hates!
What hounds thee back? Whence, whence this din?
The stranger? He hath passed the gates—
And waiteth there—within?

And waiteth there? . . . Admit him then:
Who hunts the panther to his den
Flies not the panther's rage.
. . . Fool! fool! Thou deem’st it wise to beard
Our fury? . . . Gods! the face I feared!

At height of bloom, so cometh blight.
Avaunt! avaunt, thou withering sight!
Eternal pains begin:
I swoon to Hell's abysmal night,—
Ah, horror!—Back, my Sin!