Not with the villagers at night and morn,
But very sorrowful the lonely mile,
Hadêyeh goes for water to the Nile.
For wedded long, no man-child has been born
Her lord and master’s village home to bless,
And all her life is heavy bitterness.
The dreary way she, silent and downcast,
Will plod in grief, but must perforce return
Head up, to bring the heavy household urn.
And every morn she wishes were the last,
But still toward the Nile perforce she goes,
And weeps, and none have pity on her woes.
For all the talk at morn and eventide,
When from the river Nile they water bear,
Is of the plants Egyptian mothers rear.
Of how the camel went for Hasan’s bride,—
How the Shêkh’s dame was lately brought to bed,
And of her firstborn now is lying dead.
To listen to the birds was her delight,
Her eyes were like the hawk’s that hangeth over,
She filled her hands with blossom of red clover.
Her ears are duller and her eyes less bright,
With her no more the flowers of spring prevail,
She hardly hears the piping of the quail.
And I have watched the melancholy wife
Stand sobbing, as she heaved the jar ashore,
And prayed she might not see the sunset more.
Have heard her groan, and seen the bitter strife
Wherewith unhelped she lifted up the jar,
And went by starlight home without a star.
(Idylls and Lyrics of the Nile, p. 80)