Poets of John Company/A Scene in the Doab



A Scene in the Doab.

In tangled depths the jungles spread
Around the solitary scene,
The lurking panther's sullen tread
Marks the wild paths of the ravine;

Here too the fierce hyena prowls.
Haunting the dark jheel's broad lagoon;
And here, at eve, the wolf-cub howls,
And famished jackals bay the moon.

A crumbling mosque—a ruined fort—
Hastening alike to swift decay,
Where owls and vampire bats resort.
And vultures hide them from the day,

Alone remain to tell the tale
Of Moslem power, and Moslem pride,
When shouts of conquest filled the gale
And swords in native blood were dyed.

They sleep—the slayer and the slain—
A lowly grave the victor shares
With the weak slave who wore the chain
None save a craven spirit wears.

Yet had the deeds which they have done
Lived in the poet's deathless song,
These nameless sepoys would have won
All that to valour's hopes belong

They brought their faith from distant lands,
They reared the Moslem badge on high,
And swept away with reeking brands
The reliques of idolatry.

Their wreaths have faded—lizards bask
Upon the marble pavement, where,
'Twas erst the dark-eyed beauty's task
To crown with flowers her raven hair.

Unheeded now the scorpion crawls,
And snakes unscathed in silence glide.
Where once the bright Zenana's halls
To woman's feet were sanctified.

No trace remains of those gay hours
When lamps, in golden radiance bright.
Streamed o'er these now deserted towers
The sunshine of their perfumed light.

The maiden's song, the anklet's bells
So sweetly ringing o'er the floor,
And eyes as soft as the gazelle's
Are heard, and seen, and felt no more.

Now all is silent; the wild cry
Of savage beasts alone is heard,
Or wrathful tempest hurrying by,
Or moanings of some desert bird.