Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > Spain, &c.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Spain, Portugal, Belgium, and Holland: Vols. XIV–XV.  1876–79.
Spain: Baza
The Gypsy Camp
George Eliot (1819–1880)
(From Book III)

QUIT now the town, and with a journeying dream
Swift as the wings of sound, yet seeming slow
Through multudinous compression of stored sense
And spiritual space, see walls and towers
Lie in the silent whiteness of a trance,        5
Giving no sign of that warm life within
That moves and murmurs through their hidden heart.
Pass o’er the mountain, wind in sombre shade,
Then wind into the light and see the town
Shrunk to white crust upon the darken rock.        10
Turn east and south, descend, then rise again
Mid smaller mountains ebbing towards the plain;
Scent the fresh breath of the height-loving herbs
That, trodden by the pretty parted hoofs
Of nimble goats, sigh at the innocent bruise,        15
And with a mingled difference exquisite
Pour a sweet burden on the buoyant air.
Pause now and be all ear. Far from the south,
Seeking the listening silence of the heights,
Comes a slow-dying sound,—the Moslems’ call        20
To prayer in afternoon. Bright in the sun
Like tall white sails on a green shadowy sea
Stand Moorish watch-towers; ’neath that eastern sky
Couches unseen the strength of Moorish Baza;
Where the meridian bends lies Guadix, hold        25
Of brave El Zagal. This is Moorish land,
Where Allah lives unconquered in dark breasts,
And blesses still the many-nourishing earth
With dark-armed industry. See from the steep
The scattered olives hurry in gray throngs        30
Down towards the valley, where the little stream
Parts a green hollow ’twixt the gentler slopes;
And in that hollow, dwellings: not white homes
Of building Moors, but little swarthy tents
Such as of old perhaps on Asian plains,        35
Or wending westward past the Caucasus,
Our fathers raised to rest in. Close they swarm
About two taller tents, and viewed afar
Might seem a dark-robed crowd in penitence
That silent kneel; but come now in their midst        40
And watch a busy, bright-eyed, sportive life!
Tall maidens bend to feed the tethered goat,
The ragged kirtle fringing at the knee
Above the living curves, the shoulder’s smoothness
Parting the torrent strong of ebon hair.        45
Women with babes, the wild and neutral glance
Swayed now to sweet desire of mothers’ eyes,
Rock their strong cradling arms and chant low strains
Taught by monotonous and soothing winds
That fall at night-time on the dozing ear.        50
The crones plait reeds, or shred the vivid herbs
Into the caldron: tiny urchins crawl
Or sit and gurgle forth their infant joy.
Lads lying sphinx-like with uplifted breast
Propped on their elbows, their black manes tossed back,        55
Fling up the coin and watch its fatal fall,
Dispute and scramble, run and wrestle fierce,
Then fall to play and fellowship again;
Or in a thieving swarm they run to plague
The grandsires, who return with rabbits slung,        60
And with the mules fruit-laden from the fields.
Some striplings choose the smooth stones from the brook
To serve the slingers, cut the twigs for snares,
Or trim the hazel-wands, or at the bark
Of some exploring dog they dart away        65
With swift precision towards a moving speck.
These are the brood of Zarca’s Gypsy tribe;
Most like an earth-born race bred by the Sun
On some rich tropic soil, the father’s light
Flashing in coal-black eyes, the mother’s blood        70
With bounteous elements feeding their young limbs.
The stalwart men and youths are at the wars
Following their chief, all save a trusty band
Who keep strict watch along the northern heights.

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