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

Introductory to Chinese Empire

At the Banquet to the Chinese Embassy

By Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809–1894)

August 21, 1868

BROTHERS, whom we may not reach

Through the veil of alien speech,

Welcome! welcome! eyes can tell

What the lips in vain would spell,—

Words that hearts can understand,

Brothers from the Flowery Land!

We, the evening’s latest born,

Hail the children of the morn!

We, the new creation’s birth,

Greet the lords of ancient earth,

From their storied walls and towers

Wandering to these tents of ours!

Land of wonders, fair Cathay,

Who long hast shunned the staring day,

Hid in mists of poet’s dreams

By thy blue and yellow streams,—

Let us thy shadowed form behold,—

Teach us as thou didst of old.

Knowledge dwells with length of days;

Wisdom walks in ancient ways;

Thine the compass that could guide

A nation o’er the stormy tide,

Scourged by passions, doubts, and fears,

Safe through thrice a thousand years!

Looking from thy turrets gray,

Thou hast seen the world’s decay,—

Egypt drowning in her sands,—

Athens rent by robbers’ hands,—

Rome, the wild barbarian’s prey,

Like a storm-cloud swept away:

Looking from thy turrets gray,

Still we see thee. Where are they?

And lo! a new-born nation waits,

Sitting at the Golden Gates

That glitter by the sunset sea,—

Waits with outspread arms for thee!

Open wide, ye gates of gold,

To the Dragon’s banner-fold!

Builders of the mighty wall,

Bid your mountain barriers fall!

So may the girdle of the sun

Bind the East and West in one,

Till Mount Shasta’s breezes fan

The snowy peaks of Ta-Sieue-Shan,—

Till Erie blends its waters blue

With the waves of Tung-Ting-Hu,—

Till deep Missouri lends its flow

To swell the rushing Hoang-Ho!