Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > Africa
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Africa: Vol. XXIV.  1876–79.
 
Central and Southern Africa: Soudan
Timbuctoo
Arthur Henry Hallam (1811–1833)
 
(Extract)

BEYOND the clime of Tripoly, and beyond
Bahr Abiad, where the lone peaks, unconform
  To other hills, and with rare foliage crowned,
Hold converse with the moon, a city stands
  Which yet no mortal guest hath ever found.        5
Around it stretch away the level sands
  Into the silence: pausing in his course,
The ostrich kens it from his subject lands.
  Here with faint longings and a subdued force
Once more was sought the ideal aliment        10
  Of man’s most subtle being, the prime source
Of all his blessings: here might still be blent
  Whate’er of heavenly beauty in form or sound
Illumes the poet’s heart with ravishment.
  Thou fairy city, which the desert mound        15
Encompasseth, thou alien from the mass
  Of human guilt, I would not wish thee found!
Perchance thou art too pure, and dost surpass
  Too far amid the ideas ranged high
In the Eternal Reason’s perfectness,        20
  To our deject and most embaséd eye,
To look unharmed on thy integrity,
  Symbol of love, and truth, and all that cannot die.
Thy palaces and pleasure-domes to me
  Are matter of strange thought: for sure thou art        25
A splendor in the wild: and aye to thee
  Did visible guardians of the earth’s great heart
Bring their choice tributes, culled from many a mine,
  Diamond, and jasper, porphyry, and the art
Of figured chrysolite: nor silver shine        30
  There wanted, nor the mightier power of gold:
So wert thou reared of yore, city divine!
  And who are they of blisses manifold,
That dwell within thee? Spirits of delight,
  It may be spirits whose pure thoughts enfold,        35
In eminence of being, all the light
  That interpenetrates this mighty all,
And doth endure in its own beauty’s right.
  And oh, the vision were majestical
To them, indeed, of column, and of spire,        40
  And hanging garden, and hoar waterfall!
For we, poor prisoners of this earthy mire,
  See little; they the essence and the law
Robing each other in its peculiar tire.
  Yet moments have been, when in thought I saw        45
That city rise upon me from the void,
  Populous with men: and fantasy would draw
Such portraiture of life, that I have joyed
  In over-measure to behold her work,
Rich with the myriad charms, by evil unalloyed.        50
 
 
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