Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > Africa
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Africa: Vol. XXIV.  1876–79.
On the Desert
William Wetmore Story (1819–1895)
    ALL around,
    To the bound
    Of the vast horizon’s round,
All sand, sand, sand—
All burning, glaring sand—        5
    On my camel’s hump I ride,
    As he sways from side to side,
    With an awkward step of pride,
And his scraggy head uplifted, and his eye so long and bland.
    Naught is near,        10
    In the blear
    And simmering atmosphere,
But the shadow on the sand,
The shadow of the camel on the sand;
    All alone, as I ride,        15
    O’er the desert’s ocean wide,
    It is ever at my side;
It haunts me, it pursues me, if I flee, or if I stand.
    Not a sound,
    All around,        20
    Save the padded beat and bound
Of the camel on the sand,
Of the feet of the camel on the sand.
    Not a bird is in the air,
    Though the sun, with burning stare,        25
    Is prying everywhere,
O’er the yellow thirsty desert, so desolately grand.
    Not a breath
    Stirs the death
    Of the desert, nor a wreath        30
Curls upward from the sand,
From the waves of loose, fine sand,—
    And I doze, half asleep,—
    Of the wild Sirocs that sweep
    O’er the caravans, and heap        35
With a cloud of powdery, dusty death, the terror-stricken band.
    Their groans
    And their moans
    Have departed, but their bones
Are whitening on the sand—        40
Are blanching and grinning on the sand,
    O Allah! thou art great!
    Save me from such a fate,
    Nor through that fearful strait
Lead me, thy basest servant, unto the Prophet-land.        45

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