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

Arabia: Desert of Arabia

Desert of Arabia

By Robert Southey (1774–1843)

(From Thalaba the Destroyer, Book I)

HOW beautiful is night!

A dewy freshness fills the silent air;

No mist obscures, nor cloud, nor speck, nor stain,

Breaks the serene of heaven:

In full-orbed glory yonder moon divine

Rolls through the dark blue depths.

Beneath her steady ray

The desert-circle spreads,

Like the round ocean, girdled with the sky.

How beautiful is night!

Who at this untimely hour

Wanders o’er the desert sands?

No station is in view,

Nor palm-grove, islanded amid the waste.

The mother and her child,

The widowed mother and the fatherless boy,

They at this untimely hour

Wander o’er the desert sands.


She cast her eyes around,

Alas! no tents were there

Beside the bending sands,

No palm-tree rose to spot the wilderness;

The dark blue sky closed round,

And rested like a dome

Upon the circling waste.

She cast her eyes around,

Famine and Thirst were there;

And then the wretched mother bowed her head,

And wept upon her child.