Poets of John Company/Lines on Recovering from Sickness



Lines Written on Recovering from Sickness, September, 1834.

I stood upon the shores of Hindustan,
A solitary man;
And a voice came pealing across the sea,
Unheard by all but me;
And the voice said "Up; and be gone my son,
This land is not for thee.

"Why hast thou left thine own sweet country's bowers.
And all its world of flowers?
Why hast thou left a home of quiet bliss
For such a clime as this?
Up; and begone, my son, and quit this land;
Thou know'st not what it is.

"Why should'st thou leave a shore, where all is green,
Fresh, lovely, and serene;
To seek a country far across the sea
Where winds blow parchingly.
And grim disease comes stalking o'er the plain,
Ready to light on thee."

"Dost thou seek glory?—Why abroad then roam?
Have we not that at home?
Dost thou seek riches?—Oh, believe me. Son,
That such a goal when won
Will not repay thee for the weary race
Thou, seeking it, hast run."

But stubbornness was in my heart; and I
Turn'd away silently:
Yet still I could but hear the warning voice—
"Methinks, thou dost rejoice
In this thine exile"—then I answer made
"Alas! 'twas not my choice."

Much did I marvel what the voice could be,
That thus importuned me;
And I cried out—"Those tones, oh! whose are they
That now I hear—oh! say:
Me-thought at first it was my mother's voice:
That thought has died away;

"And now I know not"—Then the voice replied
"I am thy friend—thy guide—
Thou hast none such throughout this teeming earth;
E'en from thy very birth,
I have watched o'er thee; and I charge thee now,
Reseek thy father's hearth."

Then sickness came upon me: and I lay
For many a weary day,
Cursing the hour, when first I saw the light:
At morn I pray'd for night,
And when night came I long'd for day to burst
Upon my straining sight.

Then I had visions, though I never slept.
But aye my senses kept—
Wild, troubled visions which I could not quell,
Although I knew right well.
That my distempered brain saw many things
Which were invisible.

And as I lay upon the bed of pain,
I heard the voice again;
"My son, dost thou believe me?"—and I cried
"Oh! my best friend—my guide—
Whatever thou mayest be, relieve me, and
Thou shalt be deified."

Then the voice said—"Thou needest not repine,
The hand, which smote, is mine;
And I smite whom I love.—Yet I will save
Thy body from the grave;
And when thou standest up, thou wilt regard
The counsel which I gave."

And out I spake—"Whatever thou may'st be
Who thus dost counsel me—
Thou unembodied, formless eloquence,
Whence comest thou—oh whence?"
And the voice answered in the gentlest tones
"My name is PROVIDENCE."