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

Introductory to Arabia

Arab Prayer

By Bayard Taylor (1825–1878)

“La illah il’ Allah!” the muezzin’s call

Comes from the minaret, slim and tall,

That looks o’er the distant city’s wall.

“La illah il’ Allah!” the Faithful heed,

With God and the Prophet this hour to plead:

Whose ear is open to hear their need.

The sun is sunken; no vapor mars

The path of his going with dusky bars.

The silent desert awaits the stars.

I bend the knee and I stretch the hand,

I strike my forehead upon the sand,

And I pray aloud, that He understand.

Not for my father, for he is dead;

Not in my wandering brothers’ stead,—

For myself alone I bow the head.

God is Great, and God is Just:

He knoweth the hearts of the children of dust,—

He is the Helper; in him I trust.

My sword is keen and my arm is strong

With the sense of unforgotten wrong,

And the hate that waits and watches long.

God, let me wait for year on year,

But let the hour at last appear,

When Vengeance makes my honor clear.

Once let me strike till he is slain;

His blood will cleanse my sabre’s stain,

And I shall stand erect again.

Till then, I wander to and fro,

Wide as the desert whirlwinds go,

And seek, by the sun and stars, my foe.

Better than Stamboul’s courts of gold,

Whose harems the Georgian girls infold,

Whiter than snow, but not so cold;

Better than Bagdad’s garden bowers,

Or fountains that play among Persian flowers;

Better than all delights and powers,

The deed God’s justice will abide,—

The stern atonement, long denied,

That righteous Vengeance gives to Pride.