The Poetry Corner

In The Tents Of Akbar

By Paul Laurence Dunbar

In the tents of Akbar Are dole and grief to-day, For the flower of all the Indies Has gone the silent way. In the tents of Akbar Are emptiness and gloom, And where the dancers gather, The silence of the tomb. Across the yellow desert, Across the burning sands, Old Akbar wanders madly, And wrings his fevered hands. And ever makes his moaning To the unanswering sky, For Sutna, lovely Sutna, Who was so fair to die. For Sutna danced at morning, And Sutna danced at eve; Her dusky eyes half hidden Behind her silken sleeve. Her pearly teeth out-glancing Between her coral lips, The tremulous rhythm of passion Marked by her quivering hips. As lovely as a jewel Of fire and dewdrop blent, So danced the maiden Sutna In gallant Akbar's tent. And one who saw her dancing, Saw her bosom's fall and rise Put all his body's yearning Into his lovelit eyes. Then Akbar came and drove him-- A jackal--from his door, And bade him wander far and look On Sutna's face no more. Some day the sea disgorges, The wilderness gives back, Those half-dead who have wandered, Aimless, across its track. And he returned--the lover, Haggard of brow and spent; He found fair Sutna standing Before her master's tent. "Not mine, nor Akbar's, Sutna!" He cried and closely pressed, And drove his craven dagger Straight to the maiden's breast. Oh, weep, oh, weep, for Sutna, So young, so dear, so fair, Her face is gray and silent Beneath her dusky hair. And wail, oh, wail, for Akbar, Who walks the desert sands, Crying aloud for Sutna, Wringing his fevered hands. In the tents of Akbar The tears of sorrow run, But the corpse of Sutna's slayer, Lies rotting in the sun.