University of Virginia Library


Ere twilight and the shadow fall
On Zion hill without the wall
In place where Latins set the bier
Borne from the gate—who lingers here,
Where, typing faith exempt from loss,
By sodless mound is seen a cross?
Clarel it is, at Celio's grave.
For him, the pale one, ere yet cold,
Assiduous to win and save,
The friars had claimed as of their fold;
Lit by the light of ritual wicks,
Had held to unprotesting lips
In mistimed zeal the crucifix;
And last, among the fellowships
Of Rome's legitimate dead, laid one
Not saved through faith, nor Papal Rome's true son.
Life's flickering hour they made command
Faith's candle in Doubt's dying hand.
So some, who other forms did hold,
Rumored, or criticised, or told
The tale.
Not this did Clarel win
To visit the hermit of the mound.
Nay, but he felt the appeal begin—


The poor petition from the ground:
Remember me! for all life's din
Let not my memory be drowned.
And thought was Clarel's even for one
Of tribe not his—to him unknown
Through vocal word or vital cheer:
A stranger, but less strange made here,
Less distant. Whom life held apart—
Life, whose cross-purposes make shy—
Death yields without reserve of heart
To meditation.
With a sigh
Turning, he slow pursued the steep
Until he won that leveled spot,
Terraced and elevated plot
Over Gihon, where yet others keep
Death's tryst—afar from kindred lie:
Protestants, which in Salem die.
There, fixed before a founded stone
With Bible mottoes part bestrown,
Stood one communing with the bier.
'Twas Rolfe. “Him, him I knew,” said he,
Down pointing; “but 'twas far from here—
How far from here!” A pause. “But see,
Job's text in wreath, what trust it giveth;
I know that my Redeemer liveth.’
Poor Ethelward! Thou didst but grope;
I knew thee, and thou hadst small hope.
But if at this spent man's death-bed
Some kind soul kneeled and chapter read—
Ah, own! to moderns death is drear,
So drear: we die, we make no sign,
We acquiesce in any cheer—
No rite we seek, no rite decline.
Is't nonchalance of languid sense,
Or the last, last indifference?


With some, no doubt, 'tis peace within;
In others, may be, care for kin:
Exemplary thro' life, as well
Dying they'd be so, nor repel.”
He let his eyes half absent move
About the mound: “One's thoughts will rove:
This minds me that in like content,
Other forms were kept without dissent
By one who hardly owned their spell.
He, in fulfillment of pledged work,
Among Turks having passed for Turk,
Sickened among them. On death-bed
Silent he heard the Koran read:
They shrilled the Islam wail for him,
They shawled him in his burial trim;
And now, on brinks of Egypt's waste,
Where the buried Sultans' chapels rise,
Consistently toward Mecca faced,
The blameless simulator lies:
The turbaned Swiss, Sheik Ibrahim—
Burckhardt.—But home the sparrow flees.
Come, move we ere the gate they quit,
And we be shut out here with these
Who never shall re-enter it.”