Page:Poets of John Company.djvu/137

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SIR ALFRED COMYN LYALL.


Well, I may be old and foolish, for I've seventy years well told,
And the Franks have ruled me forty, so my heart and my hand's got cold;
Good boys they are, my grandsons, I know, but they'll never be men,
Such as I was at twenty-five when the sword was king of the pen;

When I rode a Dekhani charger, with the saddle-cloth gold-laced.
And a Persian sword, and twelve foot spear, and a pistol at my waist:
My son! He keeps a pony, and I grin to see him astride,
Jogging away to the market, swaying from side to side.

My father was an Afghan, and came from Kandahar:
He rode with Nawab Amir Khan in the old Maratha war:
From the Dekhan to the Himalay, five hundred of one clan,
They asked no leave of prince or chief as they swept thro' Hindusthan;

My mother was a Brahminee, but she clave to my father well;
She was saved from the sack of Juleysur, when a thousand Hindus fell;
Her kinsmen died in the sally; so she followed where he went.
And lived like a bold Pathani in the shade of a rider's tent.

It's many a year gone by now; and yet I often dream
Of a long dark march to the Jumna, of splashing across the stream.
Of the waning moon on the water, and the spears in the dim star-light.
As I rode in front of my mother, and wondered at all the sight.

Then, the streak of the pearly dawn—the flash of a sentinel's gun.
The gallop and glint of horsemen who wheeled in the level sun,
The shots in the clear still morning, the white smoke's eddying wreath;
Is this the same land that I live in, the dull dank air that I breathe?