Poets of John Company/On the Abolition of Sattee



On the Abolition of Sattee.

Red from his chambers came the morning sun
And frowned, dark Ganges, on thy fatal 'shore.
Journeying on high; but when the day was done
He set in smiles, to rise in blood no more.
Hark! heard ye not? the widow's wail is over;
No more the flames from impious pyres ascend.
See Mercy, now primeval peace restore.
While pagans glad the arch ethereal rend,
For India hails at last, her father and her friend.

Back to its cavern ebbs the tide of crime.
There fettered, locked, and powerless it sleeps;
And History bending o'er the page of time.
Where many a mournful record still she keeps,
The widowed Hindoo's fate no longer weeps;
The priestly tyrant's cruel charm is broken.
And to his den alarmed the monster creeps;
The charm that mars his mystic spell is broken.
O'er all the land 'tis spread: he trembles at the token.

Bentinck, be thine the everlasting meed!
The heart's full homage still is virtue's claim.
And 'tis the good man's ever honoured deed
Which gives an immortality to fame:
Transient and fierce, though dazzling is the flame
That glory lights upon the wastes of war:
Nations unborn shall venerate thy name,
A triumph than the conqueror's mightier far,
Thy memory shall be blessed as is the morning star.

He is the friend of man who breaks the seal
The despot custom sets in deed and thought,
He labours generously for human weal
Who holds the omnipotence of fear as naught;
The winged mind will not to earth be brought,
'Twill sink to clay if it imprisoned be;
For 'tis with high immortal longings fraught.
And these are dimmed or quenched eternally,
Until it feels the hand that sets its pinions free.

And woman hath endured, and still endures
Wrong, which her weakness and her woes should shield,
The slave and victim of the treacherous lures
Which wily arts, to man, the tyrant yield:
And here the sight of star, or flower, or field;
Or bird that journeys through the sunny air,
Or social bliss from woman has been sealed,
To her, the sky is dark, the earth is bare.
And Heaven's most hallowed breath pronounced forbidden fare.

But with prophetic ken, dispelling fears
Which haunt the mind that dwells on nature's plan.
The Bard beholds through mists of coming years
A rising spirit speaking peace to man,
The storm is passing, and the Rainbow's span
Stretcheth from North to South: the ebon car
Of darkness rolls away: the breezes fan
The infant dawn, and morning's herald star
Comes trembling into day: O! can the Sun be far?