The Call of Lanka

W.S. Senior

I climbed o’er the crags of Lanka
And gazed on her golden sea,
And out from her ancient places
Her soul came forth to me.
"Give Me, a Bard,” said Lanka,
"My Bard of the things to-be"

"My cities are laid in ruins,
Their courts through the jungle spread,
My scepter is long departed
And the stranger lord instead,
Yet give me a Bard,” said Lanka,
"I am living, I am not dead.”

“For high in my highland valleys,
And low in my lowland plains
The pride of the past is pulsing,
Hot, in a people’s veins.
Give me a Bard,” said Lanka,
A Bard for my joys and pains.”

I offer a voice, O Lanka,
I, child of an alien isle,
For my heart has heard thee, and kindled,
Mine eyes have seen thee, and smile;
Take, Foster-Mother and use it;
‘Tis but for a little while.

For surely of thine own children,
Born of thy womb, shall rise
The Bard of the moonlit jungle,
The Bard of the tropic skies,
Warm from his Mother’s bosom,
Bright from his Mother’s eyes.

He shall hymn thee of hoar Sripada,
The Peak that is lone and tall;
He shall hymn with her crags Dunhinda,
The smoking waterfall;
Whatsoever is fair in Lanka
He shall know it and love it all.

He shall sing thee of sheer Sirigiya,
Of Minneriya’s wandering kine;
He shall sing of the lake and the lotus,
He shall sing of the rock-hewn shrine;
Whatsoever is old in Lanka
Shall live in his lordly line.

But most shall he sing of Lanka
In the brave new days that come,
When the races all have blended
And the voice of strife is dumb;
When we leap to a single bugle,
March to single drum,

March to a mighty purpose,
One Man from shore to shore,
The stranger become a brother,
The task of the tutor o’er;
When the ruined city rises,
And the Palace gleams once more.

Hark! Bard of the fateful Future,
Hark! Bard of the bright To-Be,
A Voice on the verdant mountains,
A Voice on the golden sea;
Rise, Child of Lanka, and answer!
Thy Mother hath called to Thee.


This poem by the Reverend Walter Senior, Vicar of churches in Kandy and Galle during colonial times, remains one of the most revered poems about Sri Lanka.

Main Location:

Siripadaya Peak, Peak Wilderness Sanctuary, Sri Lanka

Other locations:

Sri Lankan Uplands as written about in The Reverend Walter Senior's famous poem about Sri Lanka, Call to Lanka