Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Asia: Vols. XXI–XXIII. 1876–79.

India: Coromandel


By John Bruce Norton (1815–1883)

HERE be it mine, when India’s flame-breathed day

Hath parched the bones, and fevered all the blood,

To push forth in my shallop on the flood,

Supine on deck, while the sea-breezes play

Cool on the brow, what time the sun’s last ray

Shoots up long lines of green and gold that stud

The western sky, all crimson else as blood.

Then, as the gorgeous vision fades away,

Mid the sole sounds, the paddle’s tuneful plash,

And the far surf-roll of the waves that dash

Lazily on the Coromandel shore,

To watch the white moon don her silver dress,

While, one by one, the shy stars evermore

Come sparkling forth, like fireflies numberless.

HERE on this isle, where none beside me dwells,

Let me, the while my lonely leisure flies,

Fathom all past and present histories;

Reading the World’s tale from the sea-worn shells,

Time’s medals, on whose face he marks and tells

Creation-dates through countless centuries:

And be it mine, with calm, clear, piercing eyes,

Here, where no bias turns, no passion swells,

Or head or heart, the present acts of man

To view; as from some promontoried steep

The peerer through the glassy-surfaced wave,

Which on a summer noon no breezes fan,

A thousand fathom downward in their grave,

Surveys the buried cities of the deep.