University of Virginia Library

Search this document 

a poem and pilgrimage in the Holy Land

collapse section 
expand section 

Credit the Arab wizard lean,
And still at favoring hour are seen
(But not by Franks, whom doubts debar)
Through waves the cities overthrown:
Seboym and Segor, Aldemah,
With two whereof the foul renown
And syllables more widely reign.
Astarte, worshiped on the Plain
Ere Terah's day, her vigil keeps
Devoted where her temple sleeps
Like moss within the agate's vein—
A ruin in the lucid sea.
The columns lie overlappingly—
Slant, as in order smooth they slid
Down the live slope. Her ray can bid
Their beauty thrill along the lane
Of tremulous silver. By the marge
(If yet the Arab credence gain)
At slack wave, when midsummer's glow
Widens the shallows, statues show—


He vouches; and will more enlarge
On sculptured basins broad in span,
With alum scurfed and alkatran.
Nay, further—let who will, believe—
As monks aver, on holy eve,
Easter or John's, along the strand
Shadows Corinthian wiles in weave:
Voluptuous palaces expand,
From whose moon-lighted colonnade
Beckons Armida, deadly maid:
Traditions; and their fountains run
Beyond King Nine and Babylon.
But disenchanters grave maintain
That in the time ere Sodom's fall
'Twas shepherds here endured life's pain:
Shepherds, and all was pastoral
In Siddim; Abraham and Lot,
Blanketed Bedouins of the plain;
Sodom and her four daughters small—
For Sodom held maternal reign—
Poor little hamlets, such as dot
The mountain side and valley way
Of Syria as she shows to-day;
The East, where constancies in dwell,
Such hint may give: 'tis plausible.