Benares

Clark Ashton Smith

I

I stood by the Ganges and watch’d the pilgrim’s come and go
Forth from the city’s streets and lanes, and all of India’s land
Stood in the ghats and saw them coming, going, fast and slow.
Out of the streets and plains and jungles and hot desert sand.

II

All races and peoples and castes, they came to the stream,
From all lands of the East and some of the faraway West,
There by the Ganges I saw them under the burning beam
Of India’s sun king and beggar, the worst and the best.

III

And lo! I saw the blind jacquer stand by the Rajah’s side;
Each one stood, judged not by rank and power, but acts and deeds,
All men came with their sins, to stand the Ganges stream beside
To bathe in its holy waters—his and his brother’s needs.

IV

Down by the ghats I saw them come out from the tribes of man,
Out of the cities and jungles, and deserts of the East.
Turban of red and turban of white, as the river ran
I beheld each by his brother’s side—the greatest and the least.

V

The temples of sandstone shimmered in the haze of sultry heat,
The river gleamed as gleams a glittering Orient blade.
Out on the ghat the people came the holy stream to meet.
I saw the Rajah’s palankeen, the priest within his shade.

Printed from: www.eldritchdark.com/writings/poetry/676
Printed on: November 20, 2017