Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Americas: Vol. XXX. 1876–79.

Mexico: Mexico, the City


By Robert Southey (1774–1843)

(From Madoc)

FROM early morning till the midnoon hour

We travelled in the mountains; then a plain

Opened below, and rose upon the sight,

Like boundless ocean from a hill-top seen.

A beautiful and populous plain it was;

Fair woods were there, and fertilizing streams,

And pastures spreading wide, and villages

In fruitful groves embowered, and stately towns,

And many a single dwelling specking it,

As though for many a year the land had been

The land of peace. Below us, where the base

Of the great mountain to the level sloped,

A broad blue lake extended far and wide

Its waters, dark beneath the light of noon.

There Aztlan stood upon the farther shore:

Amid the shade of trees its dwellings rose,

Their level roofs with turrets set around,

And battlements all burnished white, which shone

Like silver in the sunshine. I beheld

The imperial city, her far-circling walls,

Her garden groves and stately palaces,

Her temple’s mountain-size, her thousand roofs;

And when I saw her might and majesty

My mind misgave me then.
We reached the shore:

A floating islet waited for me there,

The beautiful work of man. I set my feet

Upon green-growing herbs and flowers, and sate

Embowered in odorous shrubs: four long light boats

Yoked to the garden, with accordant song,

And dip and dash of oar in harmony,

Bore me across the lake.