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

Persia: Shiraz

Henry Martyn at Shiraz

By Henry Alford (1810–1871)

A VISION of the bright Shiraz, of Persian bards the theme:

The vine with bunches laden hangs o’er the crystal stream;

The nightingale all day her notes in rosy thickets trills,

And the brooding heat-mist faintly lies along the distant hills.

About the plain are scattered wide in many a crumbling heap,

The fanes of other days, and tombs where Iran’s poets sleep;

And in the midst, like burnished gems, in noonday light repose

The minarets of bright Shiraz,—the City of the Rose.

One group beside the river-bank in rapt discourse are seen,

Where hangs the golden orange on its boughs of purest green;

Their words are sweet and low, and their looks are lit with joy;

Some holy blessing seems to rest on them and their employ.

The pale-faced Frank among them sits: what brought him from afar?

Nor bears he bales of merchandise, nor teaches skill in war:

One pearl alone he brings with him,—the Book of life and death;—

One warfare only teaches he,—to fight the fight of faith.

And Iran’s sons are round him, and one, with solemn tone,

Tells how the Lord of Glory was rejected by his own;

Tells, from the wondrous Gospel, of the trial and the doom,

The words divine of love and might,—the scourge, the cross, the tomb!

Far sweeter to the stranger’s ear those Eastern accents sound,

Than music of the nightingale that fills the air around:

Lovelier than balmiest odors sent from gardens of the rose,

The fragrance from the contrite soul and chastened lip that flows.

The nightingales have ceased to sing, the roses’ leaves are shed,

The Frank’s pale face in Tocat’s field hath mouldered with the dead:

Alone and all unfriended, midst his Master’s work he fell,

With none to bathe his fevered brow, with none his tale to tell.

But still those sweet and solemn tones about him sound in bliss,

And fragrance from those flowers of God for evermore is his:

For his the meed, by grace, of those who, rich in zeal and love,

Turn many unto righteousness, and shine as stars above.