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- The Englishman and Other Poems - 4/12 -


Not we who daily walk the City's street; Not those who have been cradled in its heart, Best understand its architectural art, Or realise its grandeur. Oft we meet Some stranger who has stayed his passing feet And lingered with us for a single hour, And learned more of cathedral, and of tower, Than we, who deem our knowledge quite complete.

Not always those we hold most loved and dear, Not always those who dwell with us, know best Our greater selves. Because they stand so near They cannot see the lofty mountain crest, The gleaming sun-kissed height, which fair and dear Stands forth--revealed unto the some-time guest.


In India's land one listens aghast To the people who scream and bawl; For each caste yells at a lower caste, And the Britisher yells at them all.


Just a changing sea of colour Surging up and flowing down; And pagodas shining golden, night and noon; And a sun-burst-tinted throng Of young priests that move along Under sun-burst-hued umbrellas through the town. That's Rangoon.


A changing medley of insistent sounds, Like broken airs, played on a Samisen, Pursues me, as the waves blot out the shore. The trot of wooden heels; the warning cry Of patient runners; laughter and strange words Of children, children, children everywhere: The clap of reverent hands, before some shrine; And over all the haunting temple bells, Waking, in silent chambers of the soul, Dim memories of long-forgotten lives.

But oh! the sorrow of the undertone; The wail of hopeless weeping in the dawn From lips that smiled through gilded bars at night.

Brave little people, of large aims, you bow Too often, and too low before the Past; You sit too long in worship of the dead. Yet have you risen, open eyed, to greet The great material Present. Now salute The greater Future, blazing its bold trail Through old traditions. Leave your dead to sleep In quiet peace with God. Let your concern Be with the living, and the yet unborn; Bestow on them your thoughts, and waste no time In costly honours to insensate dust. Unlock the doors of usefulness, and lead Your lovely daughters forth to larger fields, Away from jungles of the ancient sin.

For oh! the sorrow of that undertone, The wail of hopeless weeping in the dawn From lips that smiled through gilded bars at night.


Long have I searched, cathedral shrine, and hall, To find a symbol, from the hand of art, That gave the full expression (not a part) Of that ecstatic peace which follows all Life's pain and passion. Strange it should befall This outer emblem of the inner heart Was waiting far beyond the great world's mart - Immortal answer, to the mortal call.

Unknown the artist, vaguely known his creed: But the bronze wonder of his work sufficed To lift me to the heights his faith had trod. For one rich moment, opulent indeed, I walked with Krishna, Buddha, and the Christ, And felt the full serenity of God.


Now is the time when India is gay With wedding parties; and the radiant throngs Seem like a scattered rainbow taking part In human pleasures. Dressed in bright array, They fling upon the bride their wreaths of songs - The Little Lady of the Bullock Cart.

Here is the temple ready for the rite: The large-eyed bullocks halt; and waiting arms Lift down the bride. All India's curious art Speaks in the gems with which she is bedight. And in the robes which hide her sweet alarms - The Little Lady of the Bullock Cart.

This is her day of days: her splendid hour When joy is hers, though love is all unknown. It has not dawned upon her childish heart. But human triumph, in a temporal power, Has crowned her queen upon a one-day throne - The Little Lady of the Bullock Cart.

Ah, Little Lady! What will be your fate? So long, so long, the outward-reaching years: So brief the joy of this elusive part; So frail the shoulders for the loads that wait: So bitter salt the virgin widow's tears - O Little Lady of the Bullock cart.


The Day has never understood the Gloaming or the Night; Though sired by one Creative Power, and nursed at Nature's breast; The White Man ever fails to read the Dark Man's heart aright; Though from the self-same Source they came, upon the self-same quest; So deep and wide, the Great Divide, Between the East and West.

But like a shadow on a screen, mine eyes behold, above The yawning gulf, a dim forecast, of structures strong and broad; Where caste, and colour prejudice, by countless feet down trod, With old traditions crushed by Time, pave smooth the bridge of Love; And all the creed that men shall heed Is consciousness of God.


God gave him passions, splendid as the sun, Meant for the lordliest purposes; a part Of nature's full and fertile mother heart, From which new systems and new stars are spun. And now, behold, behold, what he has done! In Folly's court and carnal Pleasures' mart He flung the wealth life gave him at the start. (This, of all mortal sins, the deadliest one.)

At dawn he stood, potential, opulent, With virile manhood, and emotions keen, And wonderful with God's creative fire. At noon he stands, with Love's large fortune spent In petty traffic, unproductive, mean - A pauper, cursed with impotent desire.




When first the shadows fell, like prison bars, And darkness spread before me, like a pall, I cried out for the sun, the earth, the stars, And beat the air, as madmen beat a wall, Till, impotent, and broken with despair,

The Englishman and Other Poems - 4/12

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