|Domenico Rosso, Italian late 19th century - "The White Slave Market"|
The Hazara are an ethnic group of Muslims belielved to have a partial strain of Mongolian ancestry.
|Hazara combatants, Kabul 1879|
The poet not only invokes this history in the title of her poem, but includes the place name of
|Branding female slaves|
|Hoffman, Vienna late 19th cent|
|Norman, "White Slave"|
French late 19th c.
|Inspecting her teeth. |
Jean Leon Gerome, French c. 1866
|Puelma, "The Slaver's |
Pearl" Chili, c.1880
|F. Schopin, French late 19th c|
Hope avoids the moralizing trap by exploring the topic of female sex slavery through the words of a male narrator grieving over the capture of his Beloved. The narrator is a fighting man who is no angel himself presumably, but never expected to lose his own delightful girlfriend to the slavers operating all around him and profiting off the wars fought by men like himself. Perhaps in the past he took "Delight" somewhat for granted, and her sudden loss has finally made him aware of the real consequences of the life of violence, death, and cultural domination that he participates in.
The nameless narrator is tormented by the idea that another man is loving his girl, and one gets the idea he'd actually rather see her dead. He can barely speak or think about the degradations she may be facing, but instead praises her lips "like a living laughing rose" and thinks of times past. He has been mad, not even sure what countries he has recently passed through on some kind of killing mission, but now in this Khorassan village night falls on him, his bloody sword and fevered brain. With so many "captured, sold or slain" he knows he'll never love Lost Delight again. He'll kill himself here under the falling white blossoms, before the green shoots of spring appear to remind him of happier days passed in this spot with his beloved.
|Fabio Fabbi, Italian late 19th cent., "The Slave Market"|
IT IS DOUBTFUL THAT SLAVE MARKETS WERE REALLY THIS MUCH FUN
For all her finely tuned poetic and lyrical sensitivity, Hope really does not hesitate to fold an unusually stiff measure of violence into some of her works. She may well be the only "daughter of the Raj" to do so in her art and writing, bringing early 20th century audiences this alternative perspective on the commonly accepted atrocities of war, murder, captivity, traditional honor codes, and sexual slavery that many, many "civilized" people accepted without much question. It is a message that is unfortunately as relevant today as it was in her lifetime.
NOTE: "Lost Delight" is recorded in the fifth section of India's Love Lyrics and may be listened to here. This is a sneak preview, and will not be available on Librivox until the entire book has been recorded.