The Bengali Book of English Verse/Jelaludeen Khiliji (Shoshee Chunder Dutt)

Jelaludeen Khiliji.

Malleck Feroze, otherwise called Jelaludeen, was the son of Malleck, a soldier of fortune and chief of the Afghan tribe called Khiliji. He was raised to the throne by a powerful faction, on the murder of Keikobad, of which he was believed to be the principal instigator: but he affected extreme regret at having his high office forced on him; and, while on the throne, was remarkable for his exceeding humility, clemency and simplicity of manners.

I am a king, but why forget
That I am still a man?
And why should gilded baubles lure,
And thoughts unclean, and deeds impure
Engross life's little span?

Who in the pride and pomp of state
Hath ever found his spirit's rest?
In Glory's thraldom who was blest?

What is there in a pageant's blaze
To cheer a monarch's eye?
And why should flattery's voice subdue,
Or why should dazzling trinkets woo,
Or vests of purple dye,
That soul which God has deign'd to raise
Above the reach of vulgar pain,
And fortune's frown, and pride's disdain?

I scorn the applause of servile men,
The wicked passions shun;
Nor would I barter for renown,
A richer jewel than my crown,
The feelings which I own:
I seek the poor in every den;
The rustic's cheerful hearth is mine,
I laugh with him—with him repine.

The friends with whom my footsteps ranged
O'er barren rock and hill.
To them with haughtiness to speak,
This faithful heart would surely break,
And be for ever still:
I find my feelings are unchanged,
Or I these royal robes would scorn,
And be again what I was born.

When I was low I ne'er repined,
Nor cursed my humble lot;
I never ask'd for wealth or pride,
Ne'er turn'd from poverty aside,
My duty ne'er forgot;

I sought for peace within my mind:
A man content I roved the green,
In folly's path was never seen.

The sick, the grieved, I tend them still
Beside their beds of straw;
A welcome guest where'er I come,
I always seek the poor man's home:
My word they say is law;
Then be fulfill'd a monarch's will,
Avaunt, fly Fear, let Discord cease,
And come and bless us meek-eyed Peace.

I ask'd not to be raised to state,
I never sought a throne;
With greater pleasure I could dwell,
My friends and I within a cell,
Than thus reign all alone—
The greatest man among the great!
No, rather would I choose to be
The poorest of the company.

O Thou! who from the lowliest life
Hast raised me 'bove my peers,
When all the world lies hush'd in sleep,
Before Thy throne my soul doth creep,
In penitence and tears:
Since to this state, with peril rife,
Lord! Thou hast dragg'd me in Thy wrath,
In pity light my rugged path.