Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > Asia
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Asia: Vols. XXI–XXIII.  1876–79.
 
Mesopotamia: Babylon
The Building of the Tower of Babel, and Confusion of Tongues
Sir David Lyndsay (c. 1490–1555)
 
(From Ane Dialog betuix Experience and ane Courteour)

THEIR great fortress then did they found,
And cast till they gat sure ground.
All fell to work, both man and child,
Some howkit clay, some burnt the tyld.
Nimrod, that curious champion,        5
Deviser was of that dungeon.
Nathing they spared their labors,
Like busy bees upon the flowers,
Or emmets travelling into June;
Some under wrocht, and some aboon,        10
With strang ingenious masonry,
Upward their wark did fortify;
The land about was fair and plain,
And it rase like ane heich montane.
Those fulish people did intend,        15
That till the heaven it should ascend;
Sae great ane strength was never seen
Into the warld with men’s een.
The wallis of that wark they made,
Twa and fifty fathom braid:        20
Ane fathom then, as some men says,
Micht been twa fathom in our days;
Ane man was then of mair stature
Nor twa be now, of this be sure.
 
The translator of Orosius        25
Intil his chronicle writes thus;
That when the sun is at the hicht,
At noon, when it doth shine maist bricht,
The shadow of that hideous strength
Sax mile and mair it is of length:        30
Thus may ye judge into your thocht,
Gif Babylon be heich or nocht.
 
Then the great God omnipotent,
To whom all things been present,
He seeand the ambition,        35
And the prideful presumption,
How thir proud people did pretend,
Up through the heavens till ascend,
Sic languages on them he laid,
That nane wist what ane other said;        40
Where was but ane language afore,
God send them languages three score;
Afore that time all spak Hebrew,
Then some began for to speak Grew,
Some Dutch, some language Saracen,        45
And some began to speak Latin.
The maister men gan to ga wild,
Cryand for trees, they brocht them tyld.
Some said, Bring mortar here at ance,
Then brocht they to them stocks and stanes;        50
And Nimrod, their great champion,
Ran ragand like ane wild lion,
Menacing them with words rude,
But never ane word they understood.
 
 
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