Limits and Renewals, by Rudyard Kipling

Azrael’s Count

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, men’s 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Next — withdrawn under moonlight, a shadow afar off —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 love-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, ‘Why 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 summonsing 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-rush has ceased, forward her soul rushes.
She is away to her tryst. Who is her pandar? Death!

This web edition published by:

The University of Adelaide Library
University of Adelaide
South Australia 5005

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:56