University of Virginia Library


On Salem's surface undermined,
Lo, present alley, lane or wynd
Obscure, which pilgrims seldom gain
Or tread, who wonted guides retain.
Humble the pilots native there:
Following humbly need ye fare:
Afoot; for never camels pass—
Camels, which elsewhere in the town,
Stalk through the street and brush the gown;
Nor steed, nor mule, nor smaller ass.
Some by-paths, flanked by wall and wall,
Affect like glens. Dismantled, torn,
Disastrous houses, ripe for fall—
Haggard as Horeb, or the rock
Named Hermit, antler of Cape Horn—
Shelter, in chamber grimed, or hall,
The bearded goat-herd's bearded flock;
Or quite abandoned, sold to fear,
Yawn, and like plundered tombs appear.


Here, if alone, strive all ye can,
Needs must ye start at meeting man.
Yet man here harbors, even he—
Harbors like lizard in dry well,
Or stowaway in hull at sea
Down by the keelson; criminal,
Or penitent, or wretch undone,
Or anchorite, or kinless one,
Or wight cast off by kin; or soul
Which anguished from the hunter stole—
Like Emim Bey the Mamaluke.
He—armed, and, happily, mounted well—
Leaped the inhuman citadel
In Cairo; fled—yea, bleeding, broke
Through shouting lanes his breathless way
Into the desert; nor at bay
Even there might stand; but, fox-like, on,
And ran to earth in Zion's town;
Here maimed, disfigured, crouched in den,
And crouching died—securest then.
With these be hearts in each degree
Of craze, whereto some creed is key;
Which, mastered by the awful myth,
Find here, on native soil, the pith;
And leaving a shrewd world behind—
To trances open-eyed resigned—
As visionaries of the Word
Walk like somnambulists abroad.