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“The tyranny of man had for ages struggled in vain against the overflowing bounty of Nature."
OTHERS have sung thy glorious sun-lit plain,
Thy perfumed shrubs, and balsam dropping dew,
Thy fathomless and coral bedded main,
The glimmering shells that mock the straining view,
Bright India's shore-that teems with Nature's gems,
The pearly shell and diamond's crystal glow;
While snow-clad summits close the land of dreams,
Northward, where Indus rolls, and Ganges' sacred flow.
Better for thee had'st thou endured a sky
Blasted with fog and mist and cheerless rains !
Better for thee e'en though 'twere thine to ply
A barren soil, and till unfruitful plains !
In rugged climes fair freedom loves to dwell,
And makes a hardy race her special care;
If rude the blast, then stronger grows the will,
And strife itself supplies a strength that strife to bear.
Not such thy lot. Alas! thy fated land
Lay like a precious casket opened wide,
The ready prize of sacrilegious hand,
That rifled half it's treasures; and the tide
Of rude invaders ceased not; wave on wave
Rose, fell and broke upon thy bloodstained shore,
And as waves thunder when the stormwinds rave,
So the fierce storms of battle ever rage and roar.
Yet thou wast happy once, if he be true,
Who said, “the land had peace when it was young;
Then each man rendered what to each was due,
For all were good alike,' or he, who sung
The far off times of ever living kings,
Whom time but sable-silvered-time in vain,
Though seeming master o'er all earthly things,
Attempted perfect men and Satya's * golden reign.
That brightness passed away; so dies the flash
The stormy winter sun at dawn displays
Beneath the low-browed watery clouds, that dash
Great rain-drops o'er the scene; yet still the rays
Defy the coming storm as loth to part;
So sad a storm-cloud darkened India's dawn;
And hid once more religion, science, art;
And naught was left but gloom of that too smiling morn.
Can mortal say who first the scattered light
Gathered into a centre lamp of faith ?
What soul awakened first from dismal night,
And breathed a life where all before was death ?
Who knit the sympathies of soul with soul,
When men were few and scattered in the land ;
Fused all by laws into a sentient whole,
Inventing corporate head, creating corporate hand ?
Slowly, unmarked, the wondrous fabric grew
To all its fair proportions; first the sage,
Wise, holy, awful-he alone who knew
To counsel kings and read the guarded page
Dark-writ with secrets of his mystic lore;
The warrior next his bright sword flashed for all ;
The merchant-to acquire the wealthy store;
And last the ignoble slave, the land's laborious thrall.
And this still lives corrupting; this alone
To link thy present with thine old world days;
All else has changed—the Brahmin on his throne
Of wisdom sits for aye; all else, a maze
Confused, of falling thrones and changing creeds-
Men, each a famous name; whose mouldering dust
No monument betrays, and now their deeds
Lie tarnished like their swords all turned to blood-stained
Yet once the mist uprose; like Snowdon's brows,
When suddenly some freshly-blowing breath
up their veil, and for one instant shows
Dark rocks above and emerald lakes beneath.
So one clear gleam we find, one certain sound-
We see the glimmer of the Grecian steel,
We hear the phalanx shake the trembling ground;
We see one grander form, one mightier presence feel.
And all the Northern powers, if tales be true,
Kings of Cashmere that India's marches hold,
E’en like the swathe fresh gemmed with summer dew,
The sweeping scythe hath into ridges rolled,
With many an ox-eye starred and meadow-sweet,
All sank before great Alexander's stroke,
And iron trampling of a thousand feet,
That, like resistless surge 'gainst failing barriers, broke.
Yet still one ruder shock 'twas thine to feel,
When first thou heard'st the Moslem's battle cry;
'Twas then religion urged the fiery steel,
Her simple message this, 'believe or die':
For Mahmoud of the twelve campaigns is there
The one stern lord of that fanatic host,
Where mingled clash of arms with sound of prayer ;
Where naught by glorious death, save life itself was lost.
And soon with many a dome and minaret,
Rose India's cities fairer from their fall;
And many a Mosque gem-like in gardens set,
Pealed o’er the plains the clear Muezzim call
At morn and closing of the golden day;
And in the short-lived hours of Indian night
The moon's calm splendour lent a fairy ray,
Bathing each dome and spire in purest silver light.
Not lovelier once Grenada met the eye
Rising above the sunlit Spanish plain ;
Than glittered under India's burning sky,
These emblems of the Moslem's lavish reign.
But fair Grenada fell—and still the tale
Tells of the Moor's last sigh, when sad, alone,
Hid in the rocky pass and mountain vale
He looked on Christian soil where all had been his own.
And so thine fell—but not by Christian hand;
No chivalry that quelled thy Moslem's pride,
Fell Timour's hordes are pouring o'er the land
Turkmans and Mongols, Tartar's fiery tide.
Disarmed by fear, the brave, no longer brave,
Forget to fight; prayers, tears, flight, all is vain-
No god to answer and no arm to save;
Burnt cities gave response and ghastly heaps of slain,