Christmas in Penang

John Leyden

Written in 1804

Dear Nona, Christmas comes from far
To seek us near the eastern star,
But wears not, in this orient clime,
Her wintry wreaths and ancient thyme. -
What flowerets must we strew to thee,
For glossy bay or rosemary?

Champaca flowers for thee we strew,
To drink the merry Christmas dew:
Though hail'd in each Malayan grove
The saffron-tinted flower of love,
Its tulip-buds adorn the hair
Of none more lov'd amid the fair.

Banana leaves their ample screen
Shall spread, to match the holly green.
Well may their glossy softness please,
Sweet emblem of the soul at ease,
The heart expanding frank and free,
Like the still-green Banana tree.

Nona, may all the woodland powers
That stud Malaya's clime with flowers,
Or on the breeze their fragrance fling,
Around thee form an angel ring,
To guard thee ever gay and free,
Beneath thy green Banana tree!

A speaker of many eastern languages, John Leyden travelled to India, Penang in what is now Malaysia and other places in South East Asia. He died of fever in Java, now part of Indonesia.

Main Location:

Penang, Malaysia

Rainforest in Penang, Malaysia