Vignettes of a South African Township called Mdantsane

Monday, May 27, 2013

Laurence Hope - Indian Love

 photo LaurenceHope_zpsa3e20a1d.jpg

This photograph is of Laurence Hope from her book Indian Love published in March 1917 by William Heinemann. This 1917 edition book is with me. Adela Florence Nicolson (née Cory) (9 April 1865-4 October 1904) was an English poet who wrote under the pseudonym Laurence Hope.

Adela Florence knew Urdu and Hindi and was well conversant with the culture of India during those times. Her poetry is a true reflection of those turbulent times and the passion and obsession of forbidden love.
The Spectator writes in a review in 1901 on the book Indian Love, ‘The poetry of Lawrence Hope must hold a unique place in modern letters. No woman has written lines so full of a strange primeval savagery – a haunting music – the living force of poetry.’

From her Poem, Yasin Khan

Thou hast enough caressed the scented hair
Of these soft-breasted girls who waste thee so.
Hast thou not sons for every adult year?
Let us arise, O Yasin Khan, and go!

Let us escape from out these prison bars
To gain the freedom of an open sky
Thy soul and mine, alone beneath the stars,
Intriguing danger, as in days gone by

The poetry of Laurence Hope remains till today, the finest in the traditions of Indo-English literature. A fitting memorial to her work would be to organize an International Festival on Love Poetry in Chennai where she lies buried in Saint Mary's Cemetery. She rightly deserves to be the pioneer in Anglo-Indian literature till today.

“For this is Wisdom; to love, to live To take what fate, or the Gods may give. To ask no question, to make no prayer, To kiss the lips and caress the hair, Speed passion's ebb as you greet its flow To have, - to hold - and - in time, - let go.”
Laurence Hope

More on Laurence Hope by Amitabh Mitra, Love poetry, the British Woman, Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century India