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a poem and pilgrimage in the Holy Land

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In street at hand a silence reigns
Which Nature's hush of loneness feigns
Few casements, few, and latticed deep,
High raised above the head below,
That none might listen, pry, or peep,
Or any hint or inkling know
Of that strange innocence or sin
Which locked itself so close within.
The doors, recessed in massy walls,
And far apart, as dingy were
As Bastile gates. No shape astir
Except at whiles a shadow falls
Athwart the way, and key in hand
Noiseless applies it, enters so
And vanishes. By dry airs fanned
The languid hyssop waveth slow,
Dusty, on stones by ruin rent.
'Twould seem indeed the accomplishment
Whereof the greater prophet tells


In truth's forecasting canticles
Where voice of bridegroom, groom and bride
Is hushed.
Each silent wall and lane—
The city's towers in barren pride
Which still a stifling air detain,
So irked him, with his burden fraught,
Timely the Jaffa Gate he sought,
Thence issued, and at venture went
Along a vague and houseless road
Save narrow houses where abode
The Turk in man's last tenement
Inearthed. But them he heeded not,
Such trance his reveries begot:
“Christ lived a Jew: and in Judæa
May linger any breath of Him?
If nay, yet surely it is here
One best may learn if all be dim.”
Sudden it came in random play
“Here to Emmans is the way;”
And Luke's narration straight recurred.
How the two falterers' hearts were stirred
Meeting the Arisen (then unknown)
And listening to his lucid word
As here in place they traveled on.
That scene, in Clarel's temper, bred
A novel sympathy, which said—
I too, I too; could I but meet
Some stranger of a lore replete,
Who, marking how my looks betray
The dumb thoughts clogging here my feet
Would question me, expound and prove,
And make my heart to burn with love—
Emmaus were no dream to-day!
He lifts his eyes, and, outlined there,
Saw, as in answer to the prayer,


A man who silent came and slow
Just over the intervening brow
Of a nigh slope. Nearer he drew
Revealed against clear skies of blue;
And—in that Syrian air of charm—
He seemed, illusion such was given,
Emerging from the level heaven,
And vested with its liquid calm.
Scarce aged like time's wrinkled sons,
But touched by chastenings of Eld,
Which halloweth life's simpler ones;
In wasted strength he seemed upheld
Invisibly by faith serene—
Paul's evidence of things not seen.
No staff he carried; but one hand
A solitary Book retained.
Meeting the student's, his mild eyes
Fair greeting gave, in faint surprise.
But, noting that untranquil face,
Concern and anxiousness found place
Beyond the occasion and surmise:
“Young friend in Christ, what thoughts molest
That here ye droop so? Wanderest
Without a guide where guide should be?
Receive one, friend: the book—take ye.”
From man to book in startled way
The youth his eyes bent. Book how gray
And weather-stained in woeful plight—
Much like that scroll left bare to blight,
Which poet pale, when hope was low,
Bade one who into Libya went,
Fling to the wasteful element,
Yes, leave it there, let wither so.
Ere Clarel ventured on reply
Anew the stranger proffered it,


And in such mode he might espy
It was the page of—Holy Writ.
Then unto him drew Clarel nigher:
“Thou art?” “The sinner Nehemiah.”