Page:Poets of John Company.djvu/125

This page has been validated.
103
HENRY GEORGE KEENE.

But now is come a direr strait than e'er the little band
Have known since first their venturous feet have trod this foreign strand;
The blood-stained rake, the tiger-prince, that laid their city low,
And slew their best and bravest by a cold-blood coward's blow—
He marches now with all his force, and boasts, in drunken glee,
To drive the pale-faced traders down before him to the sea;
And well may those stout strangers rest content his speed to stay,
Or trust to wait till cools his hate, or his armies melt away.

Now sinks the din from either camp, and not a sound is heard
Except the roar of hungry beast, or scream of prowling bird;
And Clive still lies extended; but no more he mutters now,
For sleep has sealed his weary eyes, and soothed his aching brow.

What changing cloud, what wreathing shapes float through that slumberer's breast?
What voices of vague augury, rejoicing or distrest?
While underneath and over all the tissue is of gore.
The crimson coat, the meteor flag, the hue of England's war.
The tiger-prince flies fast away, the foe shout in his rear.
The echo falls on Delhi's walls, and rocky Jessulmere;
The wild Mahratta hosts are broke, the proud Rohilla yields;
High kings are bending on their thrones, and peasants in their fields.

See Wellesley in deathless fight, see beams of glory take
The comely head of Combermere, the gallant crest of Lake,
The bayonet-push, the sabre-charge, through every realm of Ind,
From far Nepal to Cabul's heights and plains of sunny Sindh;
The red flood creeps from east to west, as goes the mighty sun,
To where in disappointment turned the hosts of Macedon;
From Martaban, from Comorin, to where Hydaspes flows.
Or holy Himalaya hoards her immemorial snows.