The Kiplings and India: A Collection of Writings from British India, 1870-1900

Two Sonnets (Alice MacDonald Kipling)


When from afar I saw your beauty shine,
   I thought that my whole life were fitly given,
If by such gift I made your beauty mine,
   If by such loss I gained the highest heaven.
But when I stood beside you, and your eyes
   Were raised to mine, their brightness all unveiled,
The charm had vanished: with a sad surprise
   I found with nearness all desire had failed.
If you had changed, or I had witless grown,
   Blind to your beauty, deaf to your sweet speech,
I knew not, when as cold as any stone
   I turned from all that seemed within my reach.
Now, near or far, no longer I desire
   That which of late set all my heart on fire.


Old age to Beauty doth more fatal prove
   Than Death in Beauty's bloom and blossoming,
Which snatching loveliness from arms o£ love
   Sets all the world a moment sorrowing.
That, like a subtle forger, whose base art
   Obscures, defaces, desecrates at will,
And leaving all yet changes every part
   And makes all valueless with knavish skill.
This, like a thief who steals a diadem,
But knowing not to change the treasure's worth,
   In guilty haste hides deep the priceless gem,
A flawless jewel still, beneath the earth:-
   And yet 'twixt this and that, how hard to say
Which bitter is—swift death or slow decay!

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