They did not listen; and he prayed
That He, the loving Lord of all,
Who comforth the poor and weak
And saveth those who sin and fall,
May lead them to the path of light,
And teach them how to live in peace;
Or spare him in his weary age,
The sight of fratricidal war.
And then he fasted – and they came
And prayed to him to eat and live;
And vowed to be as brothers all.
And peace and calm was then restored
In fair Calcutta, and again
In Delhi, seat of ancient kings.
But soon again the gathering clouds
Broke in the north and over the wet;
And tales of horror shook the land –
Murder and fire and ravage grim,
And fury ‘gainst the young and old –
Mother and child and man and maid –
And deeds of shame more deep than death.
And then he prayed again that He
The loving Lord of all the world,
His erring children spare, and take
Instead him as a sacrifice –
So there be peace within the land!
There was a band of fiery men,
Who thought that he, the best of all
The Hindus had, by words of peace
Wrought weakness in their fainting hearts,
And given to those intent on war
Across the border, cause to gloat
In triumph o’er their hideous deeds.
And so they vowed that he should die –
That there be peace within the and.
And one of them in secret came,
And mingled with the waiting crowd;
And as this man of God approached
With folded palms to join in prayer –
Advanced, knelt, kissed his feet–and then,
Ere any arm could interpose,
Lifted his hand and shot him through