The Tombs of the Kings of Golconda (a poem by Letitia Elizabeth Landon)

Letitia Elizabeth Landon, English poet and novelist, better known by her initials L.E.L writes about the Golconda fort. Hat tip – Mrs. Anuradha Reddy, INTACH Hyderabad and Telangana. Featured image is a watercolor of Golconda Fort, Hyderabad Watercolor by Jaee Apte, used with permission.

Morning is round the shining palace,
Mirror’d on the tide,
Where the lily lifts her chalice,
With its gold inside,
Like an offering from the waves.
Early waken’d 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 colours 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 sandal wood 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 splendour
On the pageant wait
That attends him to the tomb.
Music on the air is swelling,
‘Tis the funeral song,
As to his ancestral dwelling,
Is he 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 embroider’d silk is sweeping,
Silk from Persia brought,
Round the carved 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, and stronger than the state
Of the kings of fair Golconda,
Of Golconda’s ancient kings.

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