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

Syria: Bethlehem


By Charles D. Bell (1818–1898)

TWO sad-faced women, haggard, worn, and wan,

Passed wearily through Bethlehem’s sun-scorched street;

The city, moved to pity, round them ran,

And some with wondering cry the strangers greet,

“What! Is this Naomi?” She quickly broke

Upon them trembling, as they thus began,—

“Call me not Naomi,” she weeping spoke,

“For Naomi is numbered with the dead;

My name is Mara, for, O friends, with me

The Lord hath dealt exceeding bitterly!

“The hand of God has touched me, and I mourn;

Has robbed me both of husband and of son;

Woe worth the bitter day that I was born!

My prop, my stay, my life of life, is gone;

I went out full, empty come back to you,

A widow, childless, desolate, and forlorn;

The graves in Moab hold my dead heart too,

I left it with them where they sleep in peace.

So from my years has gone the sun, the light;

I grope as one through some dark dreary night.”