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.
Syria: Jehoshaphat (Kedron), the Valley
The Tomb of Absalom
Lydia Huntley Sigourney (1791–1865)
IS this thy tomb, amid the mournful shades
Of the deep valley of Jehoshaphat,
Thou son of David? Kedron’s gentle brook
Is murmuring near, as if it fain would tell
Thy varied history. Methinks I see        5
Thy graceful form, thy smile, thy sparkling eye,
The glorious beauty of thy flowing hair,
And that bright, eloquent lip, whose cunning stole
The hearts of all the people. Didst thou waste
The untold treasures of integrity,        10
The gold of conscience, for their light applause,
Thou fair dissembler?
                    Say, rememberest thou
When o’er yon flinty steep of Olivet
A sorrowing train went up? Dark frowning seers
Denouncing judgment on a rebel prince,        15
Past sadly on; and next a crownless king
Walking in sad and humbled majesty,
While hoary statesmen bent upon his brow
Indignant looks of tearful sympathy.
What caused the weeping there?
                            Thou heardst it not,
For thou within the city’s walls didst hold
Thy revel brief and base. So thou couldst set
The embattled host against thy father’s life,
The king of Israel, and the loved of God!
He mid the evils of his changeful lot,        25
Saul’s moody hatred, stern Philistia’s spear,
His alien wanderings, and his warrior toil,
Found naught so bitter as the rankling thorn
Set by thy madness of ingratitude
Deep in his yearning soul.
                        What were thy thoughts
When in the mesh of thy own tresses snared
Amid the oak whose quiet verdure mocked
Thy misery, forsook by all who shared
Thy meteor-greatness and constrained to learn
There in that solitude of agony,        35
A traitor hath no friends!—what were thy thoughts
When death careering on the triple dart
Of vengeful Joab found thee? To thy God
Rose there one cry of penitence, one prayer
For that unmeasured mercy which can cleanse        40
Unbounded guilt? Or turned thy stricken heart
Toward him who o’er thy infant graces watched
With tender pride, and all thy sins of youth
In blindfold fondness pardoned? All thy crimes
Were cancelled in that plenitude of love        45
Which laves with fresh and everlasting tide
A parent’s heart.
                I see that form which awed
The foes of Israel with its victor-might
Bowed low in grief, and hear upon the breeze
That sweeps the palm-groves of Jerusalem,        50
The wild continuous wail,—“O Absalom!
My son! My son!”
                    We turn us from thy tomb,
Usurping prince! Thy beauty and thy grace
Have perished with thee, but thy fame survives,—
The ingrate son that pierced a father’s heart.        55

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