Shway-Shwáyah, with her lips all blue,
And chin dark-beaded with tattoo,
Takes the large water-jug in hand
And joins the river-going band.
She dreams the one thing good in life
Is to be chosen for a wife:
To-day she wins her fourteenth year,
And if full charged her head can bear
From the far Nile the large ‘bellas,’1
Straight unto marriage she may pass.

So jauntily she sets aslope
The jar upon her crown of rope:
A man goes by; with native grace
She draws her veil across her face,
But I could see her dark eyes gleam
With laughter;—so toward the stream,
With ankle-bracelets jangling loud,
They hurry on, a barefoot crowd.
Then to the water-flood they haste,
The skirts bunched up about their waist,
Fill the large water-jars, and hand
Their shining amphoræ to land;
Raise to the knee, then with a cry
And helpful hoist from standers by,
Set the huge weight upon their head,
Find balance with a forward tread,
And stately, with one hand behind
To hold the burden to the wind,
High-crowned but solemnly and slow
The water-bearers homewards go,
With young Shway-shwáyah pleased to carry
Her full-sized jar—and fit to marry.

[1 The large water-jars used  by the women to carry water from the Nile.]   

(Idylls and Lyrics of the Nile, p. 77)