Page:Poets of John Company.djvu/64

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JAMES ATKINSON.

Leaf of the palm wert thou.
Primitive punkah! and thy form is still
The same with Mussulman, and eke Hindoo,
Moved in the hand at will.
In the closed harem cross-legged sit the wives
Of Rajahs and Moghuls, paun ever chewing;
And with the leaf of palm
Fanning themselves, they whiff the balm
Of hookahs, still the stimulus renewing.
And thus 'midst smoke and paun they pass their lazy lives.
But European taste
Suspends thee high;
And thou art most commodiously placed.
Not to disturb the eye.
Whilst the luxurious Soldier or Civilian
Quaffs blushing Lai beneath thy breezy swing.
And gulps factitious airs—which drive a million
Muskeetos from him. buzzing on the wing.
Refreshing flapper! influence divine!
Prime relisher of feasts—unmeasured praise be thine!

Punkah I thou cooler of the fever's heat;
Dryer of floods that inundate the skin;
Teaching the pulse more temperately to beat,
And keeping sickness out, and health within;
Thou art a blessing in this nether sphere;
Without thee, what would man do here—
In this o'erpowering land of cloudless sun?
Why, faith! his hot career would soon be done.
Even now his skin is often like a sheet
Of parchment, crisp and brown, and wo-begone;
Without thee, then would he not be, by heat,
Par-boiled, and grilled, and roasted to the bone?
And yet I am the very first,
To give thee, Punkah, fitting praise;
In all thy cheering virtues versed,
I consecrate to thee my lays.
Oh! I love to write about thee,
For I cannot breathe without thee!