(Revised slightly July 1, 2021)
This is a response to What Pegman Saw, which requires us to write 150 words, inspired by the Google Maps area selected. I went a little over the word count, sorry (169). I spent quite some time scouring Wikipedia for historical material. All errors are my own. But some helpful facts, before you read:
- Golkonda/Golconda Fort now has a light show and terrific acoustics, including one spot, where a person can clap their hands, and be heard a kilometer away. It is near Hyderabad, “The Pearl City,” and both sites attract many visitors.
- In Europe, Golkonda has been spoken about, with amazement, since medieval times. It started as a mud fort, then was expanded with granite. Many different rulers were based there. It was a market town, best known for selling gemstones and enormous diamonds, many still existing. These were discovered at the Kollur mine and elsewhere, and sold, at some point, in Golkonda.
- Many of these were plundered by various rulers, or passed through treaties, throughout the centuries. They changed hands many times, allowing each country, through which they passed, to lay a claim. These claims are being pursued, to this day, against the current holders of the gems. The gems mentioned in the poem are:
- the Koh-I-Noor (now 105.6 carats, but the original size of the cut diamond when it arrived in England was 186 old carats. When this was put on public display under Queen Victoria, the public were not impressed, so Prince Albert supervised a further cut, leading to the stone we know today. ) Queen Mary and the Queen Mother, Elizabeth, wore it in their crowns. The diamond is now housed in the Jewel House, Tower of London.
- the Nur-ul-Ain(60 carats,) a pink diamond, now in the Crown Jewels of Iran.
- The Hope Diamond (67 carats,) a blue stone because of the presence of boron, is housed at the American Museum of Natural History, the Smithsonian, Washington DC. The Hope is alleged to have a curse for anyone who owns or wears it (including an ill-fated Mademoiselle LaDue, purportedly) and the Koh-I-Noor is supposed to be lethal to any man who wears it.
There are at least 17 large diamonds, according to this Wikipedia page, which are attributed to Golconda.
As for the title, remember, a “tribute” can either mean praise, or it can mean valuables given over, to appease a conquering power.
Thanks for the prompt and thanks for reading!
Built upon a granite hilltop;
Ruined, like the Parthenon;
Mud, transformed to granite fortress:
Welcome to Golkonda town.
Shahs and Sultans, Mughals; gems
To set in brooches, diadems;
All signed away, with tortured pens.
Owned by us, purloined by them.
Great wonders, hidden at Kollur.
From this rich mine, it’s said, came more:
“The Light of the Eye,” now in Iran,
And “Hope,” so blue, hail from this clan.
But hark! The clash of cultures ring,
To see such rocks, worn by a king,
Or better yet, a queen, queen-mother.
Cursèd be the husband, brother,
Trying on this blighted gem!
This “Mountain of Light” might end him, then.
A Renaissance “Golconda” meant
The greatest riches ever dreamt.
These riches, flown to foreign lands,
Impoverished, with diamonds.
Now, many countries claim these gems.
And diamonds with less nitrogen
Are called “Golconda.”
You’re made from purer, sterner stuff.
For such a diamond in the rough,
This tribute hardly seems enough.
Copyright 2018 Andrea LeDew
For another poem about a jewel, and the storm named for it, read Beryl.