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

Syria: Jerusalem


By John Gardiner Calkins Brainard (1795–1828)

FOUR lamps were burning o’er two mighty graves,

Godfrey’s and Baldwin’s,—Salem’s Christian king;

And holy light glanced from Helena’s naves,

Fed with the incense which the pilgrim brings,—

While through the panelled roof the cedar flings

Its sainted arms o’er choir and roof and dome,

And every porphyry-pillared cloister rings

To every kneeler there its “welcome home,”

As every lip breathes out, “O Lord, thy kingdom come.”

A mosque was garnished with its crescent moons,

And a clear voice called Mussulmans to prayer.

There were the splendors of Judæa’s thrones,

There were the trophies which its conquerors wear,

All but the truth, the holy truth, was there;

For there, with lip profane, the crier stood,

And him from the tall minaret you might hear,

Singing to all whose steps had thither trod,

That verse misunderstood, “There is no God but God.”

Hark! did the pilgrim tremble as he kneeled?

And did the turbaned Turk his sins confess?

Those mighty hands the elements that wield,

That mighty Power that knows to curse or bless,

Is over all; and in whatever dress

His suppliants crowd around him, He can see

Their heart, in city or in wilderness,

And probe its core, and make its blindness flee,

Owning him very God, the only Deity.

There was an earthquake once that rent thy fane,

Proud Julian; when (against the prophecy

Of Him who lived and died and rose again,

“That one stone on another should not lie”)

Thou wouldst rebuild that Jewish masonry

To mock the eternal Word. The earth below

Gushed out in fire; and from the brazen sky

And from the boiling seas such wrath did flow

As saw not Shinar’s plain nor Babel’s overthrow.

Another earthquake comes. Dome, roof, and wall

Tremble; and headlong to the grassy bank

And in the muddied stream the fragments fall,

While the rent chasm spread its jaws, and drank

At one huge draught the sediment, which sank

In Salem’s drained goblet. Mighty Power!

Thou whom we all should worship, praise, and thank,

Where was thy mercy in that awful hour,

When hell moved from beneath, and thine own heaven did lower?

Say, Pilate’s palaces, proud Herod’s towers,

Say, gate of Bethlehem, did your arches quake?

Thy pool, Bethesda, was it filled with showers?

Calm Gihon, did the jar thy waters wake?

Tomb of thee, Mary—Virgin—did it shake?

Glowed thy bought field, Aceldama, with blood?

Where were the shudderings Calvary might make?

Did sainted Mount Moriah send a flood

To wash away the spot where once a God had stood.

Lost Salem of the Jews, great sepulchre

Of all profane and of all holy things,

Where Jew and Turk and Gentile yet concur

To make thee what thou art, thy history brings

Thoughts mixed of joy and woe. The whole earth rings

With the sad truth which He has prophesied,

Who would have sheltered with his holy wings

Thee and thy children. You his power defied;

You scourged him while he lived, and mocked him as he died!

There is a star in the untroubled sky,

That caught the first light which its Maker made,—

It led the hymn of other orbs on high;

’T will shine when all the fires of heaven shall fade.

Pilgrims at Salem’s porch, be that your aid!

For it has kept its watch on Palestine!

Look to its holy light, nor be dismayed,

Though broken is each consecrated shrine,

Though crushed and ruined all which men have called divine.