Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > Americas
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Americas: Vol. XXX.  1876–79.
Mexico: Tuloom, Yucatan
Erastus Wolcott Ellsworth (1822–1902)
          “The figure of the human hand is used by the North American Indians to denote supplication to the Deity or Great Spirit; and it stands in the system of picture-writing as the symbol for strength, power, or mastery, thus derived.”—Schoolcraft.

ON the coast of Yucatan,
As untenanted of man,
As a castle under ban
      By a doom
For the deeds of bloody hours,—        5
Overgrown with tropic bowers,
Stand the teocallis towers
      Of Tuloom.
One of these is fair to sight,
Where it pinnacles a height;        10
And the breakers blossom white,
      As they boom
And split beneath the walls,
And an ocean murmur falls
Through the melancholy halls        15
      Of Tuloom.
On the summit, as you stand,
All the ocean and the land
Stretch away on either hand,
      But the plume        20
Of the palm is overhead,
And the grass, beneath your tread,
Is the monumental bed
      Of Tuloom.
All the grandeur of the woods,        25
And the greatness of the floods,
And the sky that overbroods,
      Dress a tomb,
Where the stucco drops away,
And the bat avoids the day,        30
In the chambers of decay
      In Tuloom.
They are battlements of death:
When the breezes hold their breath,
Down a hundred feet beneath,        35
      In the flume
Of the sea, as still as glass,
You can see the fishes pass
By the promontory mass
      Of Tuloom.        40
Towards the forest is displayed,
On the terrace, a façade
With devices overlaid;
      And the bloom
Of the vine of sculpture, led        45
O’er the soffit overhead,
Was a fancy of the dead
      Of Tuloom.
Here are corridors, and there,
From the terrace, goes a stair;        50
And the way is broad and fair
      To the room
Where the inner altar stands;
And the mortar’s tempered sands
Bear the print of human hands,        55
      In Tuloom.
O’er the sunny ocean swell,
The canóas running well
Towards the isle of Cozumel
      Cleave the spume;        60
On they run, and never halt
Where the shimmer, from the salt,
Makes a twinkle in the vault
      Of Tuloom.
When the night is wild and dark,        65
And a roar is in the park,
And the lightning, to its mark,
      Cuts the gloom,—
All the region, on the sight,
Rushes upward from the night,        70
In a thunder-crash of light
      O’er Tuloom.
Oh! could such a flash recall
All the flamens to their hall,
All the idols on the wall,        75
      In the fume
Of the Indian sacrifice,—
All the lifted hands and eyes,
All the laughters and the cries
      Of Tuloom,—        80
All the kings in feathered pride,
All the people, like a tide,
And the voices of the bride
      And the groom!—
But, alas! the prickly pear,        85
And the owlets of the air,
And the lizards, make a lair
      Of Tuloom.
We are tenants on the strand
Of the same mysterious land.        90
Must the shores that we command
Their primeval forest hum,
And the future pilgrim come
Unto monuments as dumb        95
      As Tuloom?
’T is a secret of the clime,
And a mystery sublime,
Too obscure, in coming time,
      To presume;        100
But the snake amid the grass
Hisses at us as we pass,
And we sigh, alas! alas!
      In Tuloom.

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