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

Introductory to India


By John White Chadwick (1840–1904)

ALONG the scholar’s glowing page

I read the Orient thinker’s dream

Of things that are not what they seem,—

Of mystic chant and Soma’s rage.

The sunlight flooding all the room

To me again was Indra’s smile,

And on the hearth the blazing pile

For Agni’s sake did fret and fume.

Yet most I read of who aspire

To win Nirvana’s deep repose,

Of that long way the Spirit goes

To reach the absence of desire.

But through the music of my book

Another music smote my ear,

A tinkle silver-sweet and clear,—

The babble of the mountain-brook.

“O, leave,” it said, “your ancient seers;

Come out into the woods with me;

Behold an older mystery

Than Buddhist’s hope or Brahman’s fears!”

The voice so sweet I could but hear;

I sallied forth, with staff in hand,

While, mile on mile, the mountain-land

Was radiant with the dying year.

I heard the startled partridge whir,

And crinkling through the tender grass

I saw the striped addér pass,

Where dropped the chestnut’s prickly bur.

I saw the miracle of life

From death upspringing evermore;

The fallen tree a forest bore

Of tiny forms with beauty rife.

I gathered mosses rare and sweet,

The acorn in its carven cup:

Mid heaps of leaves, wind-gathered up,

I trod with half-remorseful feet.

The maple’s blush I made my own,

The sumac’s crimson splendor bold,

The poplar’s hue of paly gold,

The faded chestnut, crisp and brown.

I climbed the mountain’s shaggy crest,

Where masses huge of molten rock,

After long years of pain and shock,

Fern-covered, from their wanderings rest.

Far, far below the valley spread

Its rich, roof-dotted, wide expanse;

And further still the sunlight’s dance

The amorous river gayly led.

But still, with all I heard or saw

There mingled thoughts of that old time,

And that enchanted eastern clime

Where Buddha gave his mystic law,—

Till, wearied with the lengthy way,

I found a spot where all was still,

Just as the sun behind the hill

Was making bright the parting day.

On either side the mountains stood,

Masses of color rich and warm;

And over them in giant form

The rosy moon serenely glowed.

My heart was full as it could hold;

The Buddha’s paradise was mine;

My mountain-nook its inmost shrine,

The fretted sky its roof of gold.

Nirvana’s peace my soul had found,—

Absence complete of all desire,—

While the great moon was mounting higher,

And deeper quiet breathed around.