Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > Asia
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Asia: Vols. XXI–XXIII.  1876–79.
Asia Minor: Troy
R. T. Nicholl
ALL the sweet day the favoring Zephyr sped
  Our white-sailed pinnace o’er the wavy main,
And now, at eve, we watching from her head
  Saw the dark outline of the Trojan plain,
Misty and dim, as things at distance seem        5
  Through the fast-waning light of summer eve,
When, waking from their sultry, sad day-dream,
  The wan-faced stars grow bright and cease to grieve.
And nearer yet and nearer grew the shore,
  Which eve was tinting sober-gray and pale;        10
And louder swelled the long, low, broken roar
  Of surges climbing o’er the loose-heaped shale.
*        *        *        *        *
Full soon we grated on the shingly beach;
  Soon disembarked upon that storied shore,
Whose very rocks are eloquent to teach        15
  A world of legend and forgotten lore.
Then parted; and I musing went along,
  Half fearing it might prove delusion strange,
Or sweet enchantment of a magic song,
  Which loud-spoke word might dissipate or change.        20
Still on; while overhead the moon alway
  Kept on its course across the sea of sky,
Fathomless-blue, save for some cloudy spray,
  And those bright isles, the stars that never die;
Until I reached a barrow long and low,        25
  Which the tall grass clothed o’er and wild vines free,
That still, whenever any breeze did blow,
  Waved shadowy like the falling of the sea;
And gazing thence upon the moonlit plain,
  The voiceful silence of the saddening scene        30
Called up a city’s phantom to my brain,
  And caused me muse of what Troy once had been.
How doth the memory of heroic deeds,
  Wrought by the heroes of the elder time,
Clothe o’er thy site more than the mantling weeds,        35
  And round thy brows a deathless laurel twine.
Just as those fires which lit the midnight sky,
  Changing so many watchful tears to smiles,
Wafted to Hellas the exultant cry,
  “Troja is fallen,” o’er the Grecian isles;        40
So doth thy story, mid the rocks of time,
  Echo along the unending cycles through,
Pealing thy name in most melodious chime,
  Ne’er growing fainter, nor its notes more few.
All to the magic of that world-sung song,        45
  That god-breathed legend dost thou owe thy fame;
The golden weft the blind man wove so long,
  Hath linked to immortality thy name.
His tale to many another’s lyre hath given
  Its stirring echoes; and in every age        50
What story more than of thy woes hath riven
  Their hearts who dream upon the poet’s page.
And though for long thou in the dust hast lain,
  Still, still the visions of the mighty past,
The memory of thy struggle, and thy pain,        55
  Thy god-built turrets,—these forever last.
*        *        *        *        *
Yet still ’twixt thee and Tenedos there pours
  Just as of old the trough of angry sea,
And on the oozy sand still breaks and roars,
  As when the black keels lined the yellow lea.        60
And still the pines of Ida wave aloft
  Their tuneful, scented, dove-embowering shade;
And ’neath them twilight broods as gray and soft
  As when of yore the shepherd Paris strayed
With glad Œnone; while their bleating flocks        65
  Grazed the wild thyme bright with ambrosial dew;
And lovers piping ’neath the o’ershadowing rocks
  Laded with love the breezes as they flew.
Still Simois wanders mid his voiceful reeds,
  And Xanthus rolls his slender length along,        70
Telling the story of thy mighty deeds,
  In lagging accents of a tearful song.
All these, O Troy,—thy streams and woody hill,
  Thy barren beach whereon the long ships lay,
Thy famous isle,—the invaders haunt,—are still;        75
  But Priam’s Ilion hath passed away.
Hath passed, I said; thy memory ne’er can fade!
  The muse hath won thee from the dead again;
A golden glory crowns for aye thy shade;
  Thou livest, O Troy, forever unto men!        80

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