Ode on Leaving Velore

John Leyden

Written in 1804

Farewell Velura's moat-girt towers,
Her rocky mountains huge and high,
Each giant cliff that darkly lowers
In sullen shapeless majesty!
And thou, tall mount, * that from the sky
Usurp'st a proud, a sacred name;
Whose peak, by pilgrims seldom trod,
The silent throne of nature's God
Thine awe-struck devotees proclaim!

Thee too we hail with reverence meet,
Dread mountain!* on whose granite breast
The stamp of Buddha's lotus-feet
The kneeling Hindu views imprest.
The mango on thy hoary crest,
Thy winding caverns dark and rude,
The tomb of him who sleeps alone,
O'er-canopied with living stone,
Amid the mountain-solitude.

Thy fame is vanish'd like a dream;
Now Islam's hermit-sons from far,
Primeval Adam's footsteps deem
The traces of thine Avatar.
Not such when his triumphal car
By torch-light led the proud array;
When, as the priests the chorus sung,
Thy caves with central thunders rung,
And pour'd o'er prostrate crowds dismay. -

While he — whose soul sublime aspir'd
The dark decrees of fate to know,
Deep in these vaulted caves retir'd,
To watch the strange symbolic show, —
Around his head red lightnings gleam,
And wild mysterious accents swell: —
But, what the voice of thunder spoke,
Within the caverns of the rock,
No mortal tongue could live and tell.
 
Farewell, ye cliffs and ruin'd fanes!
Ye mountains tall, and woodlands green!
Where every rock my step detains,
To mark where ancient men have been.
Yet not for this I muse unseen,
Beside that river's bed of sand; *
Here first, my pensive soul to cheat,
Fancy pourtray'd in visions sweet
The mountains of my native land.

Still as I gaze, these summits dun
A softer livelier hue display,
Such as beneath a milder sun
Once charm'd in youth's exulting day, —
Where harmless fell the solar ray
In golden radiance on the hill,
And murmuring slow the rocks between,
Or through long stripes of fresher green,
Was heard the tinkling mountain-rill.

Soft as the lov'd illusions glow,
New lustre lights the faded eye;
Again the flowers of fancy blow,
Which shrunk beneath the burning sky.
To aguey pen and forest fly
The night-hag fever's shuddering brood;
And now, with powers reviv'd anew,
I bid Velura's towers adieu!
Adieu, her rocks and mountains rude!

And thou! with whom the sultry day
Unnoted pass'd in converse bland!
Or when thy lyre some witching lay
Would wake beneath thy magic hand; —
(Wild as the strains of fairy-land
It threw its numbers on the breeze;
Soft as the love-sick mermaid's plaint,
That breathes at summer evenings faint,
And dies along the crisping seas—) *

Dear youth, farewell! whose accents wake
Fond thoughts of friends I view no more,
Since first, to furrow ocean's lake,
I left the cliffs of Albion's shore.
Amid the wilds of grey Mysore
For thee the frequent sigh shall swell,
When rise Velura's massy towers,
Her hills and palm-encircled bowers
To fancy's view. Again farewell! —

Velore or Velura is the modern Vellore, in the state of Tamil Nadu.

Author's Notes:
* Kailasaghur, the mount of heaven. The name of a very high hill in sight of Velore.

* A mountain near Velore, on the top of which is the mark of a footstep, said to he that of father Adam by the Mussulmans, but which is really a vestige of Buddha. Deep in the mountain is a tremendous cavern, formerly used for religious ceremonies and initiations in the mysteries.

* The course of a torrent near Velore, dry in the hot season.

* Allusive to some fairy songs, set to wild and impressive airs by W. Linley, Esq.