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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882). Complete Poetical Works. 1893.

Birds of Passage

Flight the Fifth. Castles in Spain

HOW much of my young heart, O Spain,

Went out to thee in days of yore!

What dreams romantic filled my brain,

And summoned back to life again

The Paladins of Charlemagne,

The Cid Campeador!

And shapes more shadowy than these,

In the dim twilight half revealed;

Phœnician galleys on the seas,

The Roman camps like hives of bees,

The Goth uplifting from his knees

Pelayo on his shield.

It was these memories perchance,

From annals of remotest eld,

That lent the colors of romance

To every trivial circumstance,

And changed the form and countenance

Of all that I beheld.

Old towns, whose history lies hid

In monkish chronicle or rhyme,—

Burgos, the birthplace of the Cid,

Zamora and Valladolid,

Toledo, built and walled amid

The wars of Wamba’s time;

The long, straight line of the highway,

The distant town that seems so near,

The peasants in the fields, that stay

Their toil to cross themselves and pray,

When from the belfry at midday

The Angelus they hear;

White crosses in the mountain pass,

Mules gay with tassels, the loud din

Of muleteers, the tethered ass

That crops the dusty wayside grass,

And cavaliers with spurs of brass

Alighting at the inn;

White hamlets hidden in fields of wheat,

White cities slumbering by the sea,

White sunshine flooding square and street,

Dark mountain ranges, at whose feet

The river beds are dry with heat,—

All was a dream to me.

Yet something sombre and severe

O’er the enchanted landscape reigned;

A terror in the atmosphere

As if King Philip listened near,

Or Torquemada, the austere,

His ghostly sway maintained.

The softer Andalusian skies

Dispelled the sadness and the gloom;

There Cadiz by the seaside lies,

And Seville’s orange-orchards rise,

Making the land a paradise

Of beauty and of bloom.

There Cordova is hidden among

The palm, the olive, and the vine;

Gem of the South, by poets sung,

And in whose mosque Almanzor hung

As lamps the bells that once had rung

At Compostella’s shrine.

But over all the rest supreme,

The star of stars, the cynosure,

The artist’s and the poet’s theme,

The young man’s vision, the old man’s dream,—

Granada by its winding stream,

The city of the Moor!

And there the Alhambra still recalls

Aladdin’s palace of delight:

Allah il Allah! through its halls

Whispers the fountain as it falls,

The Darro darts beneath its walls,

The hills with snow are white.

Ah yes, the hills are white with snow,

And cold with blasts that bite and freeze;

But in the happy vale below

The orange and pomegranate grow,

And wafts of air toss to and fro

The blossoming almond trees.

The Vega cleft by the Xenil,

The fascination and allure

Of the sweet landscape chains the will;

The traveller lingers on the hill,

His parted lips are breathing still

The last sigh of the Moor.

How like a ruin overgrown

With flowers that hide the rents of time,

Stands now the Past that I have known;

Castles in Spain, not built of stone

But of white summer clouds, and blown

Into this little mist of rhyme!