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Mainstream, VOL LVIII No 13 New Delhi March 14, 2020

When the King comes Visiting

Sunday 15 March 2020, by Badri Raina

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When the King comes visiting, ten million
Shall line the spruced highways;
They will be gathered from the slums
Shut off to the royal gaze.

Not many boons may accrue
From the Kingly visit;
Never wise to know what a King may do,
Or choose not to do, is it?

Enough that two kindred souls shall meet
To a thunderous audience—
A monarch and a resident satrap,
In colonial remembrance.

The fanfare shall be recorded
By minions and by clerks
Whose glory is in a servitude
Refused by mavericks

Who see beyond the wall that hides
The proliferating pests—
Men, women, children in human form,
But unwanted as locusts.

Posterity shall recall the day
When ten million were brought to cheer
A lowly man in high office—
A merchant adventurer.

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