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

Introductory to Arabia


By Dionysius

Translated by H. H. Milman

THENCE, southward bending to the Orient, laves

The Erythrean, with its ocean waves,

Of all earth’s shores the fairest richest strand,

And noblest tribes possess that happy land.

First of all wonders, still forever soar

Sweet clouds of fragrance from that breathing shore.

The myrrh, the odorous cane, the cassia there,

And ever-ripening incense balms the air.

For in that land the all-ruling King on high

Set free young Bacchus from his close-bound thigh;

Broke odors from each tree at that fair birth,

And one unbounded fragrance filled the earth.

’Neath golden fleeces stooped the o’er-laden flocks,

And streams came bounding from the living rocks.

Birds from strange isles, and many an untrod shore,

With leaves of cinnamon, were flying o’er.

Loose from his shoulders hung the fawn-skin down,

In his fair hair was wreathed the ivy-crown:

Ruddy his lips with wine. He shook his wand,

Smiling, and wealth o’erflowed the gifted land.

Whence still the fields with liquid incense teem,

The hills with gold, with odors every stream;

And in their pride her sumptuous sons enfold

Their limbs in soft attire and robes of gold.