Scattered our smoke, uprooted now the poppy;
What dream, Taipan, did your delusion copy,
That as in a dream the yellow millions
Should on these mud-flats raise you stone pavilions?
Until that city, still not real, seem wholly
Their pleasure dome to ease your melancholy,
And on the Bund, in solace of your boredom,
The jerking rickshas pull their weight of whoredom.
What vision seeks here to preserve forever
Each gleam, each mist of this imagined river?
Mirage or water, there, at humid dawnings,
The idle gunboats let out canvas awnings;
Marshalled at evening in the White cantonments,
Your putteed garrisons ward old alignments.
It is yourself they guard. When, dream unshaken,
You sleep on, and the dreamless sleepers waken;
When, riven with a dream’s withdrawing thunder,
The treaties crumble and the ports go under,
Where then is your identity; whose vesture,
Substance, essence, all vanish in a gesture;
Whose future, retrospective and uncertain,
Is this illusion through a beaded curtain.