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

Introductory to India

The Last Day of Tippoo Saib

By Bryan Waller Procter (1787–1874)

THAT day he rose Sultan of half the East.

The guards awoke, each from his feverish dream

Of conquest or of fear: the trumpet plained

Through the far citadel, and thousands trooped

Obedient to its mournful melody,

Soldier and chief and slave: and he the while

Traversed his hall of power, and with a look

Deeply observant glanced on all: then, waving

His dusky arm, struck through the listening crowd

Silence and dumb respect: from his fierce tongue

Streamed words of vengeance; fame he promised,

And wealth and honors to the brave, but woe

To those who failed him. There he stood, a king

Half circled by his Asian chivalry,

In figure as some Indian god, or like

Satan when he beneath his burning dome

Marshalled the fiery cherubim, and called

All hell to arms. The sun blazed into day;

Then busy sights were seen, and sounds of war

Came thickening: first the steed’s shrill neigh; the drum

Rolling at intervals; the bugle note,

Mixed with the hoarse command; then (nearing on)

The soldier’s silent, firm, and regular tread;

The trampling horse; the clash of swords; the wheel

That, creaking, bore the dread artillery.

How fierce the dark king bore him on that day!

How bravely! Like a common slave he fought,

Heedless of life, and cheered the soldier on;

Deep in his breast the bullets sank, but he

Kept on, and this looked nobly,—like a king.

That day he earned a title with his life,

And made his foes respect him. Towards night

He grew faint, very faint with many wounds:

His soldiers bore him in: they wept: he was

Their old commander, and, whate’er his life,

Had led them on to conquest. Then (it was

His wish) they placed him on his throne. He sate

Like some dark form of marble, with an eye

Staring, and strained with pain, and motionless,

And glassy as with death: his lips compressed

Spoke inward agony, yet seemed he resolute

To die a king. An enemy came, and strove

To tear away his regal diadem:

Then turned his eye: he rose,—one angry blush

Tinted his cheek, and fled. He grasped his sword,

And struck his last, faint, useless blow, and then

Stood all defenceless. Ah! a flash, and quick

Fled the dark ball of death: right through the brain

It went (a mortal messenger), and all

That then remained of that proud Asian king,

Who startled India far and wide, and shook

The deserts with his thunder, was—a name.