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

Introductory to Persia


By Bayard Taylor (1825–1878)

WHERE is Gulistan, the Land of Roses?

Not on hills where Northern winters

Break their spears in icy splinters,

And in shrouded snow the world reposes;

But amid the glow and splendor

Which the Orient summers lend her,

Blue the heaven above her beauty closes:

There is Gulistan, the Land of Roses.

Northward stand the Persian mountains;

Southward spring the silver fountains

Which to Hafiz taught his sweetest measures,

Clearly ringing to the singing

Which the nightingales delight in,

When the Spring, from Oman winging

Unto Shiraz, showers her fragrant treasures

On the land, till valleys brighten,

Mountains lighten with returning

Fires of scarlet poppy burning,

And the stream meanders,

Through its roseate oleanders,

And Love’s golden gate, unfolden,

Opens on a universe of pleasures.

There the sunshine blazes over

Meadows gemmed with ruby clover;

There the rose’s heart uncloses,

Prodigal with hoarded stores of sweetness,

And the lily’s cup so still is

Where the river’s waters quiver,

That no wandering air can spill his

Honeyed balm, or blight his beauty’s fleetness.

Skies are fairest, days are rarest—

Thou, O Earth! a glory wearest

From the ecstasy thou bearest,

Once to feel the summer’s full completeness.

Twilight glances, moonlit dances,

Song by starlight, there entrances

Youthful hearts with fervid fancies,

And the blushing rose of Love uncloses:

Love that, lapped in summer joyance,

Far from every rude annoyance,

Calmly on the answering love reposes;

And in song, in music only

Speaks the longing, vague and lonely,

Which to pain is there the nearest,

Yet of joys the sweetest, dearest,

As a cloud when skies are clearest

On its folds intenser light discloses:

This is Gulistan, the Land of Roses.