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.
 
India: Burmah
The Burmans and Their Missionary
Lydia Huntley Sigourney (1791–1865)
 
THERE is a cry in Burmah, and a rush
Of thousand footsteps from the distant bound
Of watery Siam and the rich Cathay.
From the far northern frontier, pilgrims meet
The central dwellers in the forest-shades,        5
And on they press together. Eager hope
Sits in their eye, and on their lips the warmth
Of strong request. Is it for bread they seek,
Like the dense multitude which fainting hung
Upon the Saviour’s words, till the third day        10
Closed in and left them hungering?
                            Not for food
Or raiment ask they. Simply girding on
The scanty garment o’er the weary limb,
They pass unmarked the lofty domes of wealth
Inquiring for a stranger. There he stands;        15
The mark of foreign climes is on his brow;
He hath no power, no costly gifts to deal
Among the people, and his lore perchance
The earth-bowed worldling with his scales of gold
Accounteth folly. Yet to him is raised        20
Each straining eyeball, “Tell us of the Christ!”
And like the far-off murmur of the sea
Lashed by the tempest, swelled their blended tone,
“Sir, we would hear of Christ. Give us a scroll
Bearing his name.”
                And there that teacher stood,
        25
Far from his native land,—amid the graves
Of his lost infants, and of her he loved
More than his life,—yes, there he stood alone,
And with a simple, saint-like eloquence
Spake his Redeemer’s word. Forgot was all,—        30
Home, boyhood, Christian-fellowship,—the tone
Of his sweet babes,—his partner’s dying strife,—
Chains, perils, Burman dungeons,—all forgot,
Save the deep danger of the heathen’s soul,
And God’s salvation. And methought that earth        35
In all she vaunts of majesty, or tricks
With silk and purple, or the baubled pride
Of throne and sceptre, or the blood-red pomp,
Of the stern hero, had not aught to boast
So truly great, so touching, so sublime,        40
As that lone Missionary, shaking off
All links and films and trappings of the world,
And in his chastened nakedness of soul
Rising to bear the embassy of Heaven.
 
 
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