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
Babylon
Robert Southey (1774–1843)
 
(From Thalaba the Destroyer, Book V)

            THE MANY-COLORED domes
            Yet wore one dusky hue;
            The cranes upon the mosque
            Kept their night-clatter still,
When through the gate the early traveller passed.        5
  And when, at evening, o’er the swampy plain
            The bittern’s boom came far,
              Distinct in darkness seen
    Above the low horizon’s lingering light,
      Rose the near ruins of old Babylon.        10
 
    Once from her lofty walls the charioteer
Looked down on swarming myriads; once she flung
    Her arches o’er Euphrates’ conquered tide,
And through her brazen portals when she poured
    Her armies forth, the distant nations looked        15
    As men who watch the thunder-cloud in fear,
Lest it should burst above them. She was fallen!
    The Queen of cities, Babylon, was fallen!
Low lay her bulwarks; the black scorpion basked
    In the palace-courts; within the sanctuary        20
          The she-wolf hid her whelps.
    Is yonder huge and shapeless heap, what once
  Hath been the aerial gardens, height on height
Rising like Media’s mountains crowned with wood,
    Work of imperial dotage? Where the fame        25
    Of Belus? Where the Golden Image now,
      Which at the sound of dulcimer and lute,
      Cornet and sackbut, harp and psaltery,
        The Assyrian slaves adored?
        A labyrinth of ruins, Babylon        30
        Spreads o’er the blasted plain;
      The wandering Arab never sets his tent
    Within her walls; the shepherd eyes afar
  Her evil towers, and devious drives his flock.
  Alone unchanged, a free and bridgeless tide,        35
              Euphrates rolls along,
              Eternal nature’s work.
 
 
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