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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Asia: Vols. XXI–XXIII. 1876–79.

Syria: Jordan, the River

A Hymn of True Happiness

By William Drummond of Hawthornden (1585–1649)

AMIDST the azure clear

Of Jordan’s sacred streams,

Jordan, of Libanon the offspring dear,

When zephyr’s flowers unclose,

And sun shines with new beams,

With grave and stately grace a nymph arose.

Upon her head she ware

Of amaranths a crown,

Her left hand palms, her right a brandon bare;

Unveiled skin’s whiteness lay,

Gold hairs in curls hung down,

Eyes sparkled joy, more bright than star of day.

The flood a throne her reared

Of waves, most like that heaven

Where beaming stars in glory turn ensphered;

The air stood calm and clear,

No sigh by winds was given,

Birds left to sing, herds feed, her voice to hear.

World-wandering sorry wights,

Whom nothing can content

Within those varying lists of days and nights,

Whose life, e’er known amiss,

In glittering griefs is spent,

Come learn, said she, what is your choicest bliss;

From toil and pressing cares

How ye may respite find,

A sanctuary from soul-thralling snares,

A port to harbor sure

In spite of waves and wind,

Which shall, when Time’s hour-glass is run, endure.

Not happy is that life

Which ye as happy hold,

No, but a sea of fears, a field of strife,

Charged on a throne to sit

With diadems of gold,

Preserved by force, and still observed by wit;

Huge treasures to enjoy,

Of all her gems spoil Ind,

All Seres’ silk, in garments to employ,

Deliciously to feed,

The Phœnix’ plumes to find

To rest upon, or deck your purple bed.


No, but blest life is this,

With chaste and pure desire,

To turn unto the loadstar of all bliss,

On God the mind to rest,

Burnt up with sacred fire,

Possessing him, to be by him possest.


Swift is your mortal race,

And glassy is the field;

Vast are desires not limited by grace;

Life a weak taper is;

Then, while it light doth yield,

Leave flying joys, embrace this lasting bliss.

This when the nymph had said,

She dived within the flood,

Whose face with smiling curls long after staid;

Then sighs did zephyrs press,

Birds sang from every wood,

And echoes rang, This was true happiness!