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

Introductory to India


By Nicholas Michell (1807–1880)

(From Ruins of Many Lands)

AND this is India,—soul and eye, spell-bound,

Might muse and gaze, such glories blazing round;

And still, despite all war’s red bolts have riven,

And time hath crushed, her sun is high in heaven.

Yes, since the day when Pella’s conqueror came,

Bursting from Persia’s hills with sword of flame,

And rajahs fled, and vanquished Porus sighed,

And Hindoo blood the deep Hydaspes dyed,

Ages small change have wrought; on hills and plains

Old customs live, the primal race remains.

The Hindoo mind still superstition sways,

Still to his Triune god the Brahmin prays;

The laws of “caste” each generous hope restrain,

And bind all mental powers with palsying chain.

Still lives that old belief the Samian taught,

Insects and brutes with human souls are fraught,

Souls doomed to wander for uncounted years,

Till, pure from earthly dross, they seek the spheres.