At Cawnpore

Alfred Williams

Days of unclouded bright, where, 'neath the sweltering sky,
Quivers the panting earth, and the white blooms fade and die,
And the gold bee idly flits, and the powdered butterfly.

In the hot river-bed below, with shrunken streams,
The holy Ganges winds and dwindles, till it seems
Lost in the flaming south afar, in a haze of dreams.

The city's heart beats slow; now languid is the sight
Of the crowds down-moving in the blinding light
Through the long bazaar, with garments gleaming white.

In many an avenue, and many a glade,
The young rose droops and pines beneath the mango shade
Where, through the afternoon, the buffalo is laid.

At eve the high sun sinks, and o'er the scorching plain
Scatters into the West his showers of golden rain,
And beast and man revive, and thought stirs in the brain.

Now over all the dusk her scented mantle flings,
And a cloud of sweetness from the earth up-springs,
And the night-bird cries, and bats wheel by on velvet wings.

Alfred Williams was stationed at Kanpur (Cawnpore) in India, during World War One