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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889


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,—

Overgrown with tropic bowers

Stand the teocallis towers

Of Tuloom.

One of these is fair to sight,

Where it pinnacles a height;

And the breakers blossom white,

As they boom

And split beneath the walls,

And an ocean murmur falls

Through the melancholy halls

Of Tuloom.

On the summit, as you stand,

All the ocean and the land

Stretch away on either hand,

But the plume

Of the palm is overhead,

And the grass, beneath your tread,

Is the monumental bed

Of Tuloom.

All the grandeur of the woods,

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,

In the chambers of decay

In Tuloom.

They are battlements of death:

When the breezes hold their breath,

Down a hundred feet beneath,

In the flume

Of the sea, as still as glass,

You can see the fishes pass

By the promontory mass

Of Tuloom.

Towards the forest is displayed,

On the terrace, a façade

With devices overlaid;

And the bloom

Of the vine of sculpture, led

O’er the soffit overhead,

Was a fancy of the dead

Of Tuloom.

Here are corridors, and there,

From the terrace, goes a stair;

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,

In Tuloom.

O’er the sunny ocean swell,

The canòas running well

Towards the isle of Cozumel

Cleave the spume;

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,

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,

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,

In the fume

Of the Indian sacrifice—

All the lifted hands and eyes,

All the laughters and the cries

Of Tuloom—

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,

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.

Must the shores that we command


Their primeval forest hum,

And the future pilgrim come

Unto monuments as dumb

As Tuloom?

’Tis a secret of the clime,

And a mystery sublime,

Too obscure, in coming time,

To presume;

But the snake amid the grass

Hisses at us as we pass,

And we sigh, alas! alas!

In Tuloom.