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

Mesopotamia: Nineveh


By Nicholas Michell (1807–1880)

(From Ruins of Many Lands)

MEET is the hour thy dreary site to see,

City of darkness, vanished Nineveh!

To trace the mounds that mark the barren plain,

Where, veiled from view, tombed wonders yet remain!

Yes, Ninus’ palace, where all glories shone,

And rose at once his sepulchre and throne;

Thy far-encircling walls, and thousand towers,

Baffling for ages Asia’s leaguered powers;

The streets where princes drove their glittering cars,

And Traffic’s sons were countless as the stars;

Arask’s vast shrine, where that dread warrior died,

Whose banded myriads—boastful slaves of pride—

Fell in one night, when Heaven’s own lightnings came,

And Death’s pale angel waved her sword of flame,

Are now but heaps, with rude wrecks scattered o’er,

That bear a language writ by man no more;

Where scarce the hermit wild-flower deigns to blow,

But coarse rank grass and plants of poison grow,

And jackals lurk, and hooded serpents glide,—

Monarchs! approach ye here, and bow your pride!

Empires! so strong to-day, like change await!

And, laurelled conquerors! weep, and read your fate!