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

India: Golconda

The Tombs of the Kings of Golconda

By Letitia Elizabeth Landon (1802–1838)

MORNING is round the shining palace,

Mirrored on the tide,

Where the lily lifts her chalice

With its gold inside,

Like an offering from the waves.

Early wakened from their slumbers,

Stand the glittering ranks;

Who is there shall count the numbers

On the river’s banks?

Forth the household pours the slaves

Of the kings of fair Golconda,

Of Golconda’s ancient kings.

Wherefore to the crimson morning

Are the banners spread,

Daybreak’s early colors scorning

With a livelier red?

Pearls are wrought on each silk fold.

Summer flowers are flung to wither

On the common way.

Is some royal bride brought hither

With this festival array,

To the city’s mountain-hold

Of the kings of old Golconda,

Of Golconda’s ancient kings?

From the gates the slow procession,

Troops and nobles come.

This hour takes the king possession

Of an ancient home,—

One he never leaves again.

Musk and sandalwood and amber

Fling around their breath:

They will fill the murky chamber

Where the bride is Death.

Where the worm hath sole domain

O’er the kings of old Golconda,

O’er Golconda’s ancient kings.

Now the monarch must surrender

All his golden state,

Yet the mockeries of splendor

On the pageant wait

That attends him to the tomb.

Music on the air is swelling,

’T is the funeral song,

As to his ancestral dwelling,

He is borne along,

They must share life’s common doom,

The kings of fair Golconda,

Golconda’s ancient kings.

What are now the chiefs that gather?

What their diamond mines?

What the heron’s snowy feather

On their crest that shines?

What their valleys of the rose?

For another is their glory,

And their state and gold;

They are a forgotten story,

Faint and feebly told,—

Breaking not the still repose

Of the kings of fair Golconda,

Of Golconda’s ancient kings.

Glorious is their place of sleeping,

Gold with azure wrought,

And embroidered silk is sweeping,

Silk from Persia brought

Round the carvéd marble walls.

Not the less the night owl’s pinion

Stirs the dusky air,

Not the less is the dominion

Of the earth-worm there.

Not less deep the shadow falls

O’er the kings of fair Golconda,

O’er Golconda’s ancient kings.

Not on such vain aids relying,

Can the human heart

Triumph o’er the dead and dying.

It must know its part

In the glorious hopes that wait

The bright openings of the portal

Far beyond the sky,

Faith whose promise is immortal,

Life that cannot die;—

These are stronger than the state

Of the kings of fair Golconda,

Of Golconda’s ancient kings.