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

Arabia: Horeb, the Mount

Mount Horeb

By John Keble (1792–1866)

(From Fifth Sunday in Lent)

THE HISTORIC Muse, from age to age,

Through many a waste heart-sickening page

Hath traced the works of man:

But a celestial call to-day

Stays her, like Moses, on her way,

The works of God to scan.

Far seen across the sandy wild,

Where like a solitary child

He thoughtless roamed and free,

One towering thorn was wrapt in flame,—

Bright without blaze it went and came:

Who would not turn and see?

Along the mountain ledges green

The scattered sheep at will may glean

The desert’s spicy stores:

The while, with undivided heart,

The shepherd talks with God apart,

And, as he talks, adores.

Ye too, who tend Christ’s wildering flock,

Well may ye gather round the rock

That once was Sion’s hill:

To watch the fire upon the mount

Still blazing, like the solar fount,

Yet unconsuming still.

Caught from that blaze by wrath divine,

Lost branches of the once-loved vine,

Now withered, spent, and sere,

See Israel’s sons, like glowing brands,

Tost wildly o’er a thousand lands

For twice a thousand year.

God will not quench nor slay them quite,

But lifts them like a beacon light

The apostate Church to scare;

Or like pale ghosts that darkling roam,

Hovering around their ancient home,

But find no refuge there.

Ye blessed angels! if of you

There be, who love the ways to view

Of kings and kingdoms here,

(And sure, ’t is worth an angel’s gaze,

To see throughout the dreary maze,

God teaching love and fear):

O, say, in all the bleak expanse,

Is there a spot to win your glance,

So bright, so dark as this?

A hopeless faith, a homeless race,

Yet seeking the most holy place,

And owning the true bliss!