Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Laurence Hope

Pale hands I loved beside the Shalimar,
Where are you now?  Who lies beneath your spell?
Whom do you lead on Rapture's roadway, far,
Before you agonize them in farewell . . .
Pale hands, pink tipped, like Lotus buds that float
On those cool waters where we used to dwell,
I would have rather felt you round my throat,
Crushing out life, than waving me farewell!

"Laurence Hope" was the pseudonym of Adela Florence Nicolson, who was born in England but moved to India when she was 16 to join her father, a British army colonel who was stationed there.  When she was 24, she married another British colonel who was twice her age.  After his death during prostate surgery, she committed suicide by taking poison on this date in 1904.  She was only 39.

Her poems, which are written in the style of Indian and Persian poets, are typically about unrequited love and often involve the death of a heartbroken lover.  She was extremely popular in the early 20th century -- Thomas Hardy was a big fan -- but is almost forgotten today.

In 1902, Amy Woodforde-Finden set four of Nicolson's poems to music, including "Kashmiri Song" (which was published in 1901).  Interestingly, nearly all of the many recordings of this song are by male singers.  

No comments:

Post a Comment