Nonfiction > E.C. Stedman & E.M. Hutchinson, eds. > A Library of American Literature > 1835–1860
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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps.  A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes.  1891.
Vols. VI–VIII: Literature of the Republic, Part III., 1835–1860
 
Tuloom
By Erastus Wolcott Ellsworth (1822–1902)
 
[Putnam’s Monthly Magazine. 1853.]

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 canòas 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
    Reassume
Their primeval forest hum,
And the future pilgrim come
Unto monuments as dumb        95
    As Tuloom?
 
’Tis 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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