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

India: Burmah

The Burmans and Their Missionary

By Lydia Huntley Sigourney (1791–1865)

THERE is a cry in Burmah, and a rush

Of thousand footsteps from the distant bound

Of watery Siam and the rich Cathay.

From the far northern frontier, pilgrims meet

The central dwellers in the forest-shades,

And on they press together. Eager hope

Sits in their eye, and on their lips the warmth

Of strong request. Is it for bread they seek,

Like the dense multitude which fainting hung

Upon the Saviour’s words, till the third day

Closed in and left them hungering?
Not for food

Or raiment ask they. Simply girding on

The scanty garment o’er the weary limb,

They pass unmarked the lofty domes of wealth

Inquiring for a stranger. There he stands;

The mark of foreign climes is on his brow;

He hath no power, no costly gifts to deal

Among the people, and his lore perchance

The earth-bowed worldling with his scales of gold

Accounteth folly. Yet to him is raised

Each straining eyeball, “Tell us of the Christ!”

And like the far-off murmur of the sea

Lashed by the tempest, swelled their blended tone,

“Sir, we would hear of Christ. Give us a scroll

Bearing his name.”
And there that teacher stood,

Far from his native land,—amid the graves

Of his lost infants, and of her he loved

More than his life,—yes, there he stood alone,

And with a simple, saint-like eloquence

Spake his Redeemer’s word. Forgot was all,—

Home, boyhood, Christian-fellowship,—the tone

Of his sweet babes,—his partner’s dying strife,—

Chains, perils, Burman dungeons,—all forgot,

Save the deep danger of the heathen’s soul,

And God’s salvation. And methought that earth

In all she vaunts of majesty, or tricks

With silk and purple, or the baubled pride

Of throne and sceptre, or the blood-red pomp,

Of the stern hero, had not aught to boast

So truly great, so touching, so sublime,

As that lone Missionary, shaking off

All links and films and trappings of the world,

And in his chastened nakedness of soul

Rising to bear the embassy of Heaven.