Page:Poets of John Company.djvu/96

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74
HENRY MEREDITH PARKER.


So hasten, tell me, for my soul's on fire
Thinking of those great days of glorious strife.
When Gunga's hollow banks rang with that lyre
And shell of Britain, called the drum and fife;
Did'st thou behold those heroes who of yore
Batter'd Budge Budge, and took Chandanagore?

Immortal men;—were not their glorious brows
With laurels, powder and pomatum cover'd,
Besides gold laced cock'd hats; with many rows
Of curls that shook not, though above them hover'd
The wings of Victory? whose first rich fruits
Were shared by folks with tie wigs and jack boots.

Men who prepared ambrosial Sangaree,
And double Sangaree or Sangarorum;
Now took a fleet, now sold a pound of tea.
Weighed soap, storm'd forts, held princes in terrorem.
Drank, fought, smoked, lied, went home, and good papas,
Gave diamonds to their little boys for taws.

Happy those times, my Adjutant, when "Chiefs"
Ruled Provinces for four half crowns per day,
Yet prospered somehow, even as the sheaves
Which dreaming Pharoah saw.—Fat kine were they.
We are the lean—nor were their gleanings less
Through any freedom of the Indian Press.

Ah why was I not born in those blest days,
Truly the Golden Age of such as came
To live on brandy punch and dare the blaze
Of our Bengally sunshine—'tis a shame
That all the golden hues which shine in this age
Shine less upon the pocket than the visage.

Ha! dost thou answer! no, it is the sigh
Of a more drear and melancholy blast,
On dusky wings a wilder storm draws nigh,
And from its lair the thunder wakes at last,
A danker mist thicks the dull air of night
And shuts my gaunt companion from my sight.