Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > Asia
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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
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,        5
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        10
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        15
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        20
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.        25
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.        30
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,        35
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        40
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,        45
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,        50
Who startled India far and wide, and shook
The deserts with his thunder, was—a name.
 
 
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