| Azrael's Count
written by Rudyard Kipling
|First published in Limits and Renewals (1932), accompanying the story Uncovenanted Mercies.||Link to further information|
Lo! The Wild Cow of the Desert, her yeanling estrayed from her—
Lost in the wind-plaited sand-dunes—athirst in the maze of them.
Hot-foot she follows those foot-prints—the thrice-tangled ways of them.
Her soul is shut save to one thing—the love-quest consuming her
Fearless she lows past the camp, our fires affright her not.
Ranges she close to the tethered ones—the mares by the lances held.
Noses she softly apart the veil in the women's tent.
Next—withdrawn under moonlight, a shadow afar off—
Fades. Ere men cry, "Hold her fast! darkness recovers her.
She the all-crazed and forlorn, when the dogs threaten her,
Only a side-tossed horn, as though a fly troubled her,
Shows she hath heard, till a lance in the heart of her quivereth.
—Lo, from that carcass aheap—where speeds the soul of it?
Where is the tryst it must keep? Who is her pandar? Death!
Men I dismiss to the Mercy greet me not willingly;
Crying, "When seekest Thou me first? Are not my kin unslain?
Shrinking aside from the Sword-edge, blinking the glare of it,
Sinking the chin in the neck-bone. How shall that profit them?
Yet, among men a ten thousand, few meet me otherwise.
Yet, among women a thousand, one comes to me mistress-wise.
Arms open, breasts open, mouth open—hot is her need on her.
Crying, "Ho, Servant, acquit me, the bound by Love's promises!
Haste Thou! He Waits! I would go! Handle me lustily!"
Lo! her eyes stare past my wings, as things unbeheld by her.
Lo! her lips summoning part. I am not whom she calls!
Lo! My sword sinks and returns. At no time she heedeth it,
More than the dust of a journey, her garments brushed clear of it.
Lo! Ere the blood-gush has ceased, forward her soul rushes.
She is away to her tryst. Who is her pandar? Death!
|This work is in the public domain in countries where the copyright term is the author's life plus 70 years or less.|