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

Syria: Antioch


By Pedro Calderón de la Barca (1600–1681)

(From Scenes from the Magico Prodigioso)
Translated by P. B. Shelley

CYPRIAN.In the sweet solitude of this calm place,

This intricate wild wilderness of trees

And flowers and undergrowth of odorous plants,

Leave me; the books you brought out of the house

To me are ever best society.

And whilst with glorious festival and song

Antioch now celebrates the consecration

Of a proud temple to great Jupiter,

And bears his image in loud jubilee

To its new shrine, I would consume what still

Lives of the dying day in studious thought,

Far from the throng and turmoil. You, my friends,

Go and enjoy the festival; it will

Be worth the labor, and return for me

When the sun seeks its grave among the billows,

Which among the dim gray clouds on the horizon

Dance like white plumes upon a hearse; and here

I shall expect you.


What noise is that among the boughs? Who moves?

What art thou?
DÆMON.’T is a foreign gentleman.

Even from this morning I have lost my way

In this wild place, and my poor horse, at last

Quite overcome, has stretched himself upon

The enamelled tapestry of this mossy mountain,

And feeds and rests at the same time. I was

Upon my way to Antioch upon business

Of some importance, but wrapt up in cares

(Who is exempt from this inheritance?)

I parted from my company, and lost

My way, and lost my servants and my comrades.

CYP.’T is singular that even within the sight

Of the high towers of Antioch you could lose

Your way. Of all the avenues and green paths

Of this wild wood there is not one but leads,

As to its centre, to the walls of Antioch;

Take which you will, you cannot miss your road.

DÆM.And such is ignorance! Even in the sight

Of knowledge it can draw no profit from it.

But as it still is early, and as I

Have no acquaintances in Antioch,

Being a stranger there, I will even wait

The few surviving hours of the day,

Until the night shall conquer it.