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

Asia Minor: Cydnus, the River


By Thomas Kibble Hervey (1804–1859)

After Danby’s Picture of the Egyptian Queen Embarking on the Cydnus

FLUTES in the sunny air!

And harps in the porphyry halls!

And a low, deep hum, like a people’s prayer,

With its heart-breathed swells and falls!

And an echo, like the desert’s call,

Flung back to the shouting shores!

And the river’s ripple, heard through all,

As it plays through the silver oars!

The sky is a gleam of gold!

And the amber breezes float,

Like thoughts to be dreamed of but never told,

Around the dancing boat!

She has stepped on the burning sand!

And the thousand tongues are mute!

And the Syrian strikes, with a trembling hand,

The strings of his gilded lute!

And the Ethiop’s heart throbs loud and high,

Beneath his white symar,

And the Lybian kneels, as he meets her eye,

Like the flash of an Eastern star!

The gales may not be heard,

Yet the silken streamers quiver,

And the vessel shoots, like a bright-plumed bird,

Away, down the golden river!

Away by the lofty mount!

And away by the lonely shore!

And away by the gushing of many a fount,

Where fountains gush no more!

O for some warning vision, there,

Some voice that should have spoken

Of climes to be laid waste and bare,

And glad young spirits broken!

Of waters dried away,

And hope and beauty blasted!

That scenes so fair and hearts so gay

Should be so early wasted!

A dream of other days!

That land is a desert now!

And grief grew up to dim the blaze

Upon that royal brow!

The whirlwind’s burning wind hath cast

Blight on the marble plain,

And sorrow, like the simoom, past

O’er Cleopatra’s brain!

Too like her fervid clime, that bred

Its self-consuming fires,

Her breast, like Indian widows, fed

Its own funereal pyres!

Not such the song her minstrels sing,

“Live, beauteous, and forever!”

As the vessel darts, with its purple wing,

Away, down the golden river!