This poem was written during the time of India's colonisation by the British, which the speaker of this poem clearly feels to be profoundly negative for India as a country. Note how the speaker describes India as being a chained eagle who cannot fly, and is only "grovelling in the lowly dust." The poem starts by remembering the glory of India before colonisation, and yet swiftly changes to focusing on how colonisation has been damaging and resulted in the loss of that glory. What the speaker wants, therefore, is to be able to restore some of that glory and reclaim even a small portion of that former wonder that characterised India before the British destroyed it. Note how he expresses this wish:
Well--let me dive into the depths of time,
And bring from out the ages that have rolled
A few small fragments of those wrecks sublime,
Which human eyes may never more behold.
The speaker uses the metaphor of diving and searching in shipwrecked ships to present his desire to go into "the depths of time" and search for a "few small fragments of those wrecks sublime" that would show incontrovertibly the past glory of India and do something, however small, to resurrect the former might and power of this nation that has been changed so dramatically through colonisation. The wish of the speaker therefore is to be able to change the way India is seen and thought of by finding some tangible evidence of what India used to be like before the arrival of the British.