The Bengali Book of English Verse/Portraits from "The Last Day" (Nabakrishna Ghosh)

Portraits from "The Last Day."


And now I see a noble figure cast
In highest beauty's mould, whose lofty brow
Bespeaks a pure and gracious soul within.
He looks the image bright of Clemency;
And as he moves, lo! Peace attends his steps.
When a fierce hurricane swept o'er the East,
And men hurled Reason from her tottering throne,
With cheeks unblanched, stout heart, and iron nerves,
He curb'd their passions wild, and firmly check'd
War's blood-hounds in their merciless career,
And thus from ruin saved a classic land,
And fair Humanity from lasting shame.
Oh, baleful days! whose memory still sends
A thrill of horror through the circling veins!
Oh, stormy days! when lacerated Peace
Lay all but lifeless upon Mercy's lap,
And Virtue—Innocence—Religion's self,
Like storm-kiss'd flowers, with consternation shook;
While with infernal merriment, hell laughed
To find another hell produced on earth!
In that dread saturnalia of blood,
This righteous statesman stood revealed in all
His moral grandeur; violence and rapine
And lawlessness fled at his stern command;
He brought down Mercy from her heavenly bower,
The sword of Justice tempered with her dew!

Among that saintly host, with thrilling joy
And pride, I see the bold Reformer, who
In darkest times flung off the yoke of Falsehood;

And, putting on the panoply of light,
Brought bright-eyed Truth from her secluded home
Amidst Himalaya's eternal snows
Back to his native plain, from whence she had
In terror fled, all scared by hateful rites
Revolting of a hellish superstition.
Filled with the learning of the East and West,
An intellectual Samson in the midst
Of Philistines grovelling in ignorance,
And fallen from their simple ancient faith,
He consecrated, with unflinching zeal,
His mighty mind with all its gifts and powers,
Its wealth of knowledge spoiled from hoary Time,
Its deepest thoughts, and fondest, brightest hopes,
To the sole service of his God and kind.
O! noble life with noble deeds replete!
'Twas thine the glory and the grace and joy
To save thy country's new-born buds from slaughter
On the altars of a fell idolatry,
And widowed female hearts all warm and throbbing
With full-blooded life from off the blazing pyre!
Thine the still higher glory to erect
God's church pure from abominations foul
On the strong rock of Nature's revelation,
Which ne'er deceiveth, understood aright.


Next see he comes, with smiling looks benign,
The grand old man, who left his sea-girt home
In the far West, to spouse Philanthropy
In fair Bengala's grove of champac bright;
Who fondly, passionately clave to her,
And only her, thro' weal and woe, in health
And sickness, and thro' good report and evil,
Unchanged and changeless with the ceaseless whirl

Of self and passions' bustling stir around!
For he re-lit the lamp of Knowledge, where
Her crystal light had been for ages quenched,
And all his heart and soul and means employed
In serving selflessly an ancient race,
Borne down by wars and robber-hordes, and pining
In the deep gloom of Freedom's longest night.
His life was but a stream of golden deeds,
A white page undefiled by blur or blot;
And so he left a blessed name behind,
A name told on the heart's own rosary.
Methinks I see a merry troop of boys
Gathered round him, the centre of their sports;
And as the fun goes round, loud ringing peals
Of elfin laughter greet each sprightly prank
The little folk—spring-flowers of innocence—
Invent, to speed the joyous hours away.
And he the while views them with glistening eyes,
Or joins them in their sports, more blithe and gay
Than even the merriest, playfullest of them;
Or now and then, as they fall out, decides
Their little suits, and harmony restores.
Blest spirit hallowed be thy name, and cherished
In kind remembrance to the verge of time!