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

Introductory to India


By Robert Southey (1774–1843)

(From The Curse of Kehama)

JOY in the city of great Jaga-Naut!

Joy in the seven-headed Idol’s shrine!

A virgin-bride his ministers have brought,

A mortal maid, in form and face divine,

Peerless among all daughters of mankind;

Searched they the world again from east to west,

In endless quest,

Seeking the fairest and the best,

No maid so lovely might they hope to find;

For she hath breathed celestial air,

And heavenly food hath been her fare,

And heavenly thoughts and feelings give her face

That heavenly grace.

Joy in the city of great Jaga-Naut,

Joy in the seven-headed idol’s shrine!

The fairest maid his Yoguees sought,

A fairer than the fairest have they brought,

A maid of charms surpassing human thought,

A maid divine.

Now bring ye forth the chariot of the god!

Bring him abroad,

That through the swarming city he may ride;

And by his side

Place ye the maid of more than mortal grace,

The maid of perfect form and heavenly face;

Set her aloft in triumph, like a bride

Upon the bridal car,

And spread the joyful tidings wide and far,

Spread it with trump and voice

That all may hear, and all who hear rejoice,

Great Jaga-Naut hath found his mate! the god

Will ride abroad!

To-night will he go forth from his abode!

Ye myriads who adore him,

Prepare the way before him!

Upreared on twenty wheels elate,

Huge as a ship, the bridal car appeared;

Loud creak its ponderous wheels, as through the gate

A thousand Bramins drag the enormous load.

There throned aloft in state,

The image of the seven-headed god

Came forth from his abode; and at his side

Sate Kailyal like a bride.

A bridal statue rather might she seem,

For she regarded all things like a dream,

Having no thought, nor fear, nor will, nor aught

Save hope and faith, that lived within her still.

O silent night, how have they startled thee

With the brazen trumpet’s blare!

And thou, O moon! whose quiet light serene

Filleth wide heaven, and bathing hill and wood,

Spreads o’er the peaceful valley like a flood,

How have they dimmed thee with the torches’ glare,

Which round yon moving pageant flame and flare,

As the wild rout, with deafening song and shout,

Fling their long flashes out,

That, like infernal lightnings, fire the air.

A thousand pilgrims strain

Arm, shoulder, breast and thigh, with might and main,

To drag that sacred wain,

And scarce can draw along the enormous load.

Prone fall the frantic votaries in its road,

And calling on the god,

Their self-devoted bodies there they lay

To pave his chariot-way.

On Jaga-Naut they call,

The ponderous car rolls on, and crushes all.

Through flesh and bones it ploughs its dreadful path.

Groans rise unheard; the dying cry,

And death and agony

Are trodden underfoot by yon mad throng,

Who follow close, and thrust the deadly wheels along.