Kanheri Caves

Nicholas Michell

Hark! from Salsette's once fair and flowery shore
The jackall's cry, the tiger's hollow roar;
Where dark-eyed Nautch-girls danced in beauty's pride,
The toad spits venom now, and serpents glide;
The marble steps are clothed with waving grass,
No sun-bright streams purl music as ye pass;
Yon altars own no more the prophet's sway;
The Eden that once bloomed hath passed away.
Yet here, 'mid scenes luxuriant as sublime,
Was Buddha worshipped, pride of elder time,
Classed with those spirits centuries only bring,
To raise their kind, and clear Truth's darkening spring;
Bless'd sage of Ind! — but Persecution's brand
His followers smote — they fled their native land;
Their creed, their rites the hapless exiles bore
To many a foreign wild and mountain shore;
And fast their doctrines spread — to Buddha now,
Like leaves in Autumn, countless millions bow;
If zeal prove truth, and numbers win the field,
To him must Brahm, e'en Mecca's Prophet, yield.
See! where he stands in Salsette's temple-caves!
Time and his foes that form of granite braves:
He looks tow'rd Western skies; though here his shrine
Is crushed, forlorn, and hailed no more divine,
He seems to smile, as if instinct with life —
Vanquished of old, now victor in the strife,
Conscious how bright elsewhere his starry fame,
His laws revered, and bless'd his ancient name.

Salsette is the island off the cost of Maharashtra, on which Mumbai is built.