University of Virginia Library



Over against the Temple here
A monastery unrestored—
Named from Prediction of Our Lord—
Crumbled long since. Outlying near,
Some stones remain, which seats afford:
And one, the fond traditions state,
Is that whereon the Saviour sate
And prophesied, and sad became
To think, what, under sword and flame,
The proud Jerusalem should be,
Then spread before him sunnily—
Pillars and palms—the white, the green—
Marble enfoliaged, a fair scene;
But now—a vision here conferred
Pale as Pompeii disinterred.
Long Rolfe, on knees his elbows resting
And head enlocked in hands upright,
Sat facing it in steadfast plight
And brooded on that town slow wasting.
“And here,” he said, “here did He sit—
In leafy covert, say—Beheld
The city, and wept over it:
Luke's words, and hard to be excelled,
So just the brief expression there:
Truth's rendering.”—With earnest air,
More he threw out, in kind the same,
The which did Clarel ponder still;
For though the words might frankness claim,
With reverence for site and name;
No further went they, nor could fill
Faith's measure—scarce her dwindled gill


Now standard. On the plain of Troy
(Mused Clarel) as one might look down
From Gargarus with quiet joy
In verifying Homer's sites,
Yet scarce believe in Venus' crown
And rescues in those Trojan fights
Whereby she saved her supple son;
So Rolfe regards from these wan heights
Yon walls and slopes to Christians dear.
Much it annoyed him and perplexed:
Than free concession so sincere—
Concession due both site and text—
Dissent itself would less appear
To imply negation.
But anon
They mark in groups, hard by the gate
Which overlooks Jehoshaphat,
Some Hebrew people of the town.
“Who marvels that outside they come
Since few within have seemly home,”
Said Rolfe; “they chat there on the seats,
But seldom gossip in their streets.
Who here may see a busy one?
Where's naught to do not much is done.
How live they then? what bread can be?
In almost every country known
Rich Israelites these kinsmen own:
The hat goes round the world. But see!”
Moved by his words, their eyes more reach
Toward that dull group. Dwarfed in the dream
Of distance sad, penguins they seem
Drawn up on Patagonian beach.
“O city,” Rolfe cried; “house on moor,
With shutters burst and blackened door—
Like that thou showest; and the gales


Still round thee blow the Banshee-wails:
Well might the priest in temple start,
Hearing the voice—‘Woe, we depart!’”
Clarel gave ear, albeit his glance
Diffident skimmed Vine's countenance,
As mainly here he interest took
In all the fervid speaker said,
Reflected in the mute one's look:
A face indeed quite overlaid
With tremulous meanings, which evade
Or shun regard, nay, hardly brook
Fraternal scanning.
Rolfe went on:
“The very natives of the town
Methinks would turn from it and flee
But for that curse which is its crown—
That curse which clogs so, poverty.
See them, but see yon cowering men:
The brood—the brood without the hen!”—
“City, that dost the prophets stone,
How oft against the judgment dread,
How often would I fain have spread
My wings to cover thee, mine own;
And ye would not! Had'st thou but known
The things which to thy peace belong!”
Nehemiah it was, rejoining them—
Gray as the old Jerusalem
Over which how earnestly he hung.
But him the seated audience scan
As he were sole surviving man
Of tribe extinct or world. The ray
Which lit his features, died away;
He flagged; and, as some trouble moved,
Apart and aimlessly he roved.