It hath a solemn, sober, staid demeanour,
Like the head usher on a flogging day,
Two glassy eyes, that have no more of keen or
Living glances, than two balls of clay;
And legs like wither'd reeds; long, white and small.
Fit for the very Genius of Bengal.
Yes, such must be the Genius of the Land;
We all have seen him through the twilight dim
On some tall sepulchre assume his stand.
Silent and motionless, and grey and grim,
As if in gloomy joy he brooded o'er
Those who had come to perish on his shore.
Say I not sooth, thou dull and dingy thing,
Genius, Argeelah, Adjutant, whate'er
Name thou affectest most?—Could I not sing
Of wretchedness as plenteous as the air,
The burning air we breathe?—but I'll not grumble
Though all our hopes each day become more humble.
No—rather now that thou and I together
Are standing by the side of this lone swamp.
Thy smiling home perhaps, and that the weather
Is tolerably cool, though somewhat damp,
Just fit for conversational enjoyments.
Would ask you of your past life and employments.
I've mentioned my opinion of your age,
So, without loss of time, we pass that over,
No doubt you saw King Sudraka, the Sage,
Write of Vansantasena and her lover,
But pass that too—and above all don't bore us
With tales of Alexander and King Porus.
Though thou didst stand by Attock, and beheld
Greek armour glancing in the Indian sun.
Helmet, and crest, and spear, and bossy shield.
Like a bright winding river on the dun
And restless desert—while the air around
Shook with the Macedonian trumpet's sound.
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HENRY MEREDITH PARKER.