The Slave, by Madison Cawein
He waited till within her tower
Her taper signalled him the hour.
He was a prince both fair and brave.—
What hope that he would love her slave!
He of the Persian dynasty;
And she a Queen of Araby!—
No Peri singing to a star
Upon the sea were lovelier….
I helped her drop the silken rope.
He clomb, aflame with love and hope.
I drew the dagger from my gown
And cut the ladder, leaning down.
Oh, wild his face, and wild the fall:
Her cry was wilder than them all.
I heard her cry; I heard him moan;
And stood as merciless as stone.
The eunuchs came: fierce scimitars
Stirred in the torch-lit corridors.
She spoke like one who speaks in sleep,
And bade me strike or she would leap.
I bade her leap: the time was short:
And kept the dagger for my heart.
She leapt…. I put their blades aside,
And smiling in their faces—died.