Poets of John Company/The Land of Regrets

The Land of Regrets.

"Yea, they thought scorn of that pleasant land."

What far-reaching Nemesis steered him
From his home by the cool of the sea?
When he left the fair country that reared him,
When he left her, his mother, for thee,
That restless, disconsolate worker
Who strains now in vain at thy nets,
O sultry and sombre Noverca!
O Land of Regrets!

What lured him to life in the tropic?
Did he venture for fame or for pelf?
Did he seek a career philanthropic?
Or simply to better himself?
But whate'er the temptation that brought him,
Whether piety, dullness, or debts.
He is thine for a price, thou hast bought him,
O Land of Regrets!

He did list to the voice of a siren,
He was caught by the clinking of gold,
And the slow toil of Europe seemed tiring,
And the grey of his fatherland cold;
He must haste to the gardens of Circe;
What ails him, the slave, that he frets
In thy service? O Lady sans merci!
O Land of Regrets!

From the East came the breath of its odours
And its heat melted soft in the haze,
While he dimly descried thy pagodas,
O Cybele, ancient of days;
Heard the hum of thy mystic processions,
The echo of myriads who cry.
And the wail of their vain intercessions,
Through the bare empty vault of the sky.

Did he read of the lore of thy sages?
Of thy worships by mountain and flood?
Did he muse o'er thy annals? the pages
All blotted with treason and blood;
Thy chiefs and thy dynasties reckon?
Thy armies—he saw them come forth
O'er the wide stony wolds of the Dekhan,
O'er the cities and plains of the North.

He was touched with the tales of our glory,
He was stirred by the clash and the jar
Of the nations who kill con amore,
The fury of races at war;
'Mid the crumbling of royalties rotting,
Each cursed by a knave or a fool,
Where kings and fanatics are plotting,
He dreamt of a power and a rule;
Hath he come now, in season, to know thee;
Hath he seen, what a stranger forgets,
All the graveyards of exiles below thee,
O Land of Regrets!

Has he learnt how thy honours are rated?
Has he cast his accounts in thy school?
With the sweets of authority sated,
Would he give up his throne to be cool?
Doth he curse Oriental romancing,
And wish he had toiled all his day,
At the Bar, or the Banks, or financing.
And got damned in a common-place way?

Thou hast racked him with duns and diseases.
And he lies, as thy scorching winds blow,
Recollecting old England's sea breezes
On his back in a lone bungalow;
At the slow coming darkness repining,
How he girds at the sun till it sets,
As he marks the long shadows declining
O'er the Land of Regrets.

Let him cry, as thy blue devils seize him,
O step-mother, careless as Fate,
He may strive from thy bonds to release him.
Thou hast passed him his sentence—Too Late;
He has found what a blunder his youth is.
His prime what a struggle, and yet
Has to learn of old age what the truth is
In the Land of Regret.