University of Virginia Library


The City Red in cloud-land lies
Yonder,” said Derwent, quick to inter
The ill, or light regard transfer:
“But Petra must we leave unseen—
Tell us”—to Rolfe—“there hast thou been.”
“With dragons guarded roundabout
'Twas a new Jason found her out—
Burckhardt, you know.” “But tell.” “The flume
Or mountain corridor profound
Whereby ye win the inner ground
Petræan; this, from purple gloom
Of cliffs—whose tops the suns illume


Where oleanders wave the flag—
Winds out upon the rosy stain,
Warm color of the natural vein,
Of porch and pediment in crag.
One starts. In Esau's waste are blent
Ionian form, Venetian tint.
Statues salute ye from that fane,
The warders of the Horite lane.
They welcome, seem to point ye on
Where sequels which transcend them dwell;
But tarry, for just here is won
Happy suspension of the spell.”
“But expectation's raised.”
“No more!
'Tis then when bluely blurred in shore,
It looms through azure haze at sea—
Then most 'tis Colchis charmeth ye.
So ever, and with all! But, come,
Imagine us now quite at home
Taking the prospect from Mount Hor.
Good. Eastward turn thee—skipping o'er
The intervening craggy blight:
Mark'st thou the face of yon slabbed hight
Shouldered about by hights? what Door
Is that, sculptured in elfin freak?
The portal of the Prince o' the Air?
Thence will the god emerge, and speak?
El Deir it is; and Petra's there,
Down in her cleft. Mid such a scene
Of Nature's terror, how serene
That ordered form. Nor less 'tis cut
Out of that terror—does abut
Thereon: there's Art.”
“Dare say—no doubt;
But, prithee, turn we now about
And closer get thereto in mind;
That portal lures me.”


“Nay, forbear;
A bootless journey. We should wind
Along ravine by mountain-stair,—
Down which in season torrents sweep—
Up, slant by sepulchers in steep,
Grotto and porch, and so get near
Puck's platform, and thereby El Deir.
We'd knock. An echo. Knock again—
Ay, knock forever: none requite:
The live spring filters through cell, fane,
And tomb: a dream the Edomite!”
“And dreamers all who dream of him—
Though Sinbad's pleasant in the skim.
Pæstum and Petra: good to use
For sedative when one would muse.
But look, our Emir.—Ay, Djalea,
We guess why thou com'st mutely here
And hintful stand'st before us so.”
“Ay, ay,” said Rolfe; “stirrups, and go!”
“But first,” the priest said, “let me creep
And rouse our poor friend slumbering low
Under yon rock—queer place to sleep.”
Queer?” muttered Rolfe as Derwent went;
Queer is the furthest he will go
In phrase of a disparagement.
But—ominous, with haggard rent—
To me yon crag's brow-beating brow
Looks horrible—and I say so.”