University of Virginia Library

From Baalbec, for a new sojourn,
To Jewry Rolfe had made return;
To Jewry's inexhausted shore
Of barrenness, where evermore
Some lurking thing he hoped to gain—
Slip quite behind the parrot-lore
Conventional, and—what attain?
Struck by each clear or latent sign
Expressive in the stranger's air,
The student glanced from him to Vine:
Peers, peers—yes, needs that these must pair.
Clarel was young. In promise fine,
To him here first were brought together
Exceptional natures, of a weather
Strange as the tropics with strange trees,
Strange birds, strange fishes, skies and seas,


To one who in some meager land
His bread wins by the horny hand.
What now may hap? what outcome new
Elicited by contact true—
Frank, cordial contact of the twain?
Crude wonderment, and proved but vain.
If average mortals social be,
And yet but seldom truly meet,
Closing like halves of apple sweet—
How with the rarer in degree?
The informal salutation done,
Vine into his dumb castle went—
Not as all parley he would shun,
But looking down from battlement,
Ready, if need were, to accord
Reception to the other's word,—
Nay, far from wishing to decline,
And neutral not without design,
May be.—
“Look, by Christ's belfry set,
Appears the Moslem minaret!”
So—to fill trying pause alone—
Cried Rolfe; and o'er the deep defile
Of Kedron, pointed toward the Town,
Where, thronged about by many a pile
Monastic, but no vernal bower,
The Saracen shaft and Norman tower
In truce stand guard beside that Dome
Which canopies the Holy's home:
“The tower looks lopped; it shows forlorn—
A stunted oak whose crown is shorn;
But see, palm-like the minaret stands
Superior, and the tower commands.”
“Yon shaft,” said Clarel, “seems ill-placed.”
“Ay, seems; but 'tis for memory based.
The story's known: how Omar there


After the town's surrender meek—
Hallowed to him, as dear to Greek—
Clad in his clouts of camel's hair,
And with the Patriarch robed and fine
Walking beneath the dome divine,
When came the Islam hour for prayer
Declined to use the carpet good
Spread for him in the church, but stood
Without, even yonder where is set
The monumental minaret;
And, earnest in true suppliance cried,
Smiting his chest: “Me overrule!
Allah, to me be merciful!”
'Twas little shared he victor-pride
Though victor. So the church he saved
Of purpose from that law engraved
Which prompt transferred to Allah sole
Each fane where once his rite might roll.
Long afterward, the town being stormed
By Christian knights, how ill conformed
The butchery then to Omar's prayer
And heart magnanimous. But spare.”