The Cummerbund

 An Indian Poem

(First published in Times of India, Bombay, July, 1874)

I.

She sate upon her Dobie,
     To watch the Evening Star,

And all the Punkahs, as they passed,
     Cried, "My! how fair you are!"

Around her bower, with quivering leaves,
     The tall Kamsamahs grew,

And Kitmutgars in wild festoons
     Hung down from Tchokis blue.


II.

Below her home the river rolled
     With soft meloobious sound,

Where golden-finned Chuprassies swam,
     In myriads circling round.

Above, on tallest trees remote
     Green Ayahs perched alone,

And all night long the Mussak moan'd
     Its melancholy tone.


III.

And where the purple Nullahs threw
     Their branches far and wide,

And silvery Goreewallahs flew
     In silence, side by side,
The little Bheesties' twittering cry
     Rose on the flagrant air,

And oft the angry Jampan howled
     Deep in his hateful lair.


IV.

She sate upon her Dobie,
     She heard the Nimmak hum,
When all at once a cry arose,
     "The Cummerbund is come!"
In vain she fled: with open jaws
     The angry monster followed,

And so (before assistance came)
     That Lady Fair was swollowed.

V.

They sought in vain for even a bone
     Respectfully to bury;

They said, "Hers was a dreadful fate!"
     (And Echo answered, "Very.")

They nailed her Dobie to the wall,
     Where last her form was seen,

And underneath they wrote these words,
     In yellow, blue, and green:

"Beware, ye Fair! Ye Fair, beware!
     Nor sit out late at night,

Lest horrid Cummerbunds should come,
     And swollow you outright."

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