Assar Mahal, —Beejapore. Engraved by G. Hamilton from a drawing by Thomas Boys based on a sketch by Captain R. N. Elliot, R.N. From the 1833 Fisher’s Drawing Room Scrapbook edited by Letitia E. Landon. Note that the place indicated in title of the poem differs from the engraving. Click on image to enlarge it.

Alas, o’er the palace in ruins,
Time has past with a terrible trace
Yet still the vast shrine and the temple
Seem to speak of a mightier race
Than ours, which exists by the minute,
And builds but by contract and steam,
Till the spirit has no where to wander,
And the heart has no rest for its dream.

But here in the desolate palace,
So stedfast amid its decay,
With its vast halls and sculptures remaining,
The builder alone past away:
What visions arise up before us,
The infinite and the unknown,
Now hidden and vague as the meaning,
Concealed in each strangely carved stone!

Who knows but those mystical letters *
Might yield every secret of time
Could the past be restored to the present,
Methinks ' twere a union sublime:
The past — dreaming, high and ideal,
The present - keen, selfish and wise,
' Twould be like the glorious old Grecian,
And again steal the fire from the skies.

We now make existence too actual,
"Twere better to float down the stream,
At the will of the wind and the current,
The best of our being a dream.
Alas, did I judge from experience,
Whatever the future may be,
I’d but ask of the past its illusions,
They were all that are precious to me.             [26]

* Most of the ancient buildings are covered with hieroglyphics.

Related Material Including Engravings of Scenes from the Same City


Fisher’s Drawing Room Scrapbook. Ed. L.E.L. [Letitia E. Landown]. London: Fisher, Son, & Jackson, 1833. Hathi Trust Digital Library version of a copy in the New York Public Library. Web. 21 July 2020.

Last modified 24 July 2020