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The Palace at Amber

Where a few travellers wander around the empty rooms.  1974

The sun shines hot

On the still stone steps,

But in the courts where fountains play

Cool breezes find their winding way

Among the shade of a colonnade

Where the peacocks walk on marble floors,

As in the alcoves set apart,

The waiting servants stand and talk.

And in this place

Where the bright lords live

Their lives of wine and love,

A young girl waits alone,

Alone at a window in a tower.

She dreams of one who promised to come,

And counts the days until the hour

Of his return.

The ladies of court

All take their ease

In the garden

By the trees.

They gossip now

About their friends

And plan love´s complex strategies.

They talk about the latest jewels,

And silks and spices, mirrors and fans,

From the longed-for camel caravans.

The young girl sits and waits

By the lattice frame.

In the chequered shade

Her cheek and shoulder both are made

A dark and delicate brocade.

She looks on the lake

On the forts and temples,

And sees the hills and the wandering line

Of the strong stone wall,

Built to keep out Amber´s foes,

Who would ravage this sun-hot land,

And steal the gems of jewelled Jaipur.

But all is empty now.

The lords and ladies are no more.

We do not know if the young prince came.

That is a story long, long past.

The thousand mirrored roofs reflect

Only the stones of the floor.

The courts are quiet.

Silent the great stone palace stands,

Empty of its busy life,

Of smiles and tears, of fears and plans,

Of promises made and promises broken.

Now home to ghosts of Mughals gone,

Who live in the winds and drink the air,

As they wander through the courtyards there.