new zealand electronic poetry centre

Lola Ridge

online works

The Last Lover

“I thirst, my love! Let the warm blood flow
Until thy turbulent veins are dry.
Red roses lie on the heart I covet,
As strong wine splashes the lips that love it;
To pledge thee here where the deep drops slow,
I hasten, love; for I heard thy cry.

“What staunchest thou with thy fingers slight?
That runneth o’er on thy warm, wet breast –
Strange sap to flow from a milk-white bosom!
And ravest thou in thy grief to lose him?
Who caged a bird for his sole delight –
To fling it forth from a rifled nest.

“And one who loved thee passing well –
For whom a strand of thy glistening hair
Were bond enow! In thy pride forsaken,
He sleeps too deep at thy need to waken,
Who would have clung to the bars of hell
To hold thy hand for a moment there.

“He spurred his steed till its flanks were dyed
And deep chest laboring brokenly;
A demon chant in the frenzied rhythm
Of pounding hoofs on the plain went with him –
Was thine the fault when the stallion shied
And flung him prone on a fallen tree?

“One knelt by thy pillow, passion pale,
Who fled away through the midnight dim –
Dost thou remember the lonely waking
To moaning surf on the low rocks breaking,
And white sea-foam in the schooner’s trail?
Now nought it matters to thee – or him.

“One stooped to fondle a fallen rose,
Dropped from a fold on thy scented gown;
Now crushed and low in the dust it lieth;
For other rose than thy rose he sigheth –
A bud that odorous, crimson grows,
And thine is gathered and soiled and brown.

“With two white passion flowers on thy face –
Meet blossoms these for our bridal bed!
Nay, shrink not, sweet, while thy limbs I cover –
No shame should lie between loved and lover;
And priests shall mumble above the place
Wherein we two take our joy,” Death said.



‘The Last Lover,’ Bulletin 24 Aug 1905: 3. NSW.
See also Verses 1905: 89-90.

Last updated 29 May, 2013