Address to the Ganges
The waves are dashing proudly down,
Along thy sounding shore;
Lashing, with all the storm of power,
The craggy base of mountain tower,
Of mosque, and pagod hoar,
That darkly o’er thy waters frown;
As if their moody spirits’ sway
Could hush thy wild and boist’rous play.
Unconscious roll the surges down,
But not unconscious thou,
Dread spirit of the roaring flood!
For ages worshipp’d as a god,
And worshipp’d even now—
Worshipp’d and not by serf or clown;
For sages of the mightiest fame
Have paid their homage to thy name.
Canst thou forget the glorious past,
When, mighty as a god,
With hands and heart unfetter’d yet,
And eyes with slavish tears unwet,
Each sable warrior trod
Thy sacred shore; before the blast
Of Moslem conquest hurried by;
Ere yet the Mogul spear was nigh?
O’er crumbled thrones thy waters glide,
Through scenes of blood and woe;
And crown and kingdom, might and sway,
The victor’s and the poet’s bay,
Ignobly sleep below.
Sole remnant of our ancient pride;
Thy waves survive the wreck of time,
And wanton free, as in their prime.
I gaze upon thy current strong
Beneath the blaze of day;
What conjured visions throng my sight,
Of war and carnage, death and flight!
Thy waters to the Bay
In purple eddies sweep along,
And Freedom shrieking leaves her shrine,
Alas! no longer now divine.
‘Twas here the savage Tartar stood,
And toss’d his brand and spear;
The ripples of thy sacred stream
Reflected back his sabre’s gleam,
While quaked with dastard fear
The children of a haughtier blood,
No longer now a haughty race,
Their own, their sires’, their land’s disgrace.
But why recount our woes and shame?
Upon thy sacred shore
Be mine to dream of glories past,
To grieve those glories could not last,
And muse on days of yore;
For ever harp on former fame,
Remembering still those spirits brave
Who sleep beneath thy boist’rous wave.
Roll, Gunga, roll in all thy pride,
Thy hallow’d groves among!
Glorious art thou in every mood,
Thou boast of India’s widowhood,
Thou theme of every song!
Blent with the murmurs of thy tide
The records of far ages lie,
And live, for thou canst never die.
Shoshee Chunder Dutt (1824–1885)