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

Syria: Jericho


By Nicholas Michell (1807–1880)

(From Ruins of Many Lands)

WHERE are thy walls, proud Jericho?—the blast

Of Israel’s horn to earth thy towers might cast,

But Time more surely lays thy bulwarks low;

Yonder the Jordan sweeps with tireless flow,

And Pisgah rears his earth-o’ergazing brow,

Defying storm and thunder,—where art thou?

Thy towers have left no stone; not e’en a palm

Waves on thy site amidst the burning calm:

A few green turf-clad mounds alone remain,

Like those which rise on Troy’s deserted plain.

Gone is that costly plant, a queen’s fair hand

To Salem brought from Sheba’s spicy land,

The weeping balsam, whose nectareous dew,

More prized than silver, well the trader knew:

Yet still one flower above its flinty bed,

Renowned by minstrels, lifts its lowly head;

White rose of Jericho! so small yet sweet,

That oft the way-worn traveller stoops to greet,

What dost thou in this desert? vain thy bloom

As the lamp’s light that gilds the cheerless tomb;

Vain opes thy bosom to the thankless air,

No painted insect flies to nestle there;

Thy scents embalm the ground, but useless shed

As gifts of good upon the ungrateful head.

Alas! fair rose, the barren plain we see,

How can it warm to life, have charms for thee?

Yet here, exhaling sweets, thou dost remain,

Like hope fond lingering in this world of pain,

Whose bright and holy smile will ne’er depart,

Though every joy beside may fly the heart.