A Poem Circa 1790

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In 1790, a reader sent in a poem to Madras Courier, about life, love and empire.

Once more we hail thee welcome to our Coast,
India’s fair model, as her brightest boat!
Oh! Fay what left Intelligence restores
Thy long-lost virtues of these gladdened shores?
What meek eyed Harbringer of good displays
Th’ unhop’d return of former, halcyon, days?
And bids the Seraph train with duteous hand
Conduct their precious charge in safety to the land?

Forbid me not to raise the votive lay!
It is the Muse – her mandate I obey,
As dwells the Pearl embosom’d in the wave,
And finds with the parent-shell it’s grave,
If haply he that searches nature’s plan
Give not its glories to the view of man;
So, modest worth her own desert would shun,
Veil her sweat orb from day, nor meet the garish fun.

What gratulation best salutes thine ear?
Wife? Mother? Friend? -each-all-thy proper
Say, rich Golconda, in thy proudest mine
Hast thou one gem of radiance so divine?
Potoli’s ore with Cornwall’s then compare;
Hindustan’s swarthies with Britannia’s fair:
Or to this blossom of deciduous praise
Liken the gayest wreath of Dryden’s living bays.

Oh! Suited well in every walk to thine,
Unlock the spell that binds the drooping Nine;
With folded arms fee! Pensive Thespis prays
Where scarce a fun-beam thro’ yon visto plays;
In pity take the wand’rer to thy breast,
Her fav’rite thou! By wond’ring crowds confest:
It’s s-den charms to social life restore,
Thou – thou alone – canst be what CAMPBELL was.

Madras, October 20, 1790


Madras Courier originally ran as a broadsheet with a poetry section. It was a time when readers felt comfortable sharing glimpses of their lives through verse. If you too have a poem you’d like to submit, do mail us at editor@madrascourier.com.


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