Home  »  Poems of Places An Anthology in 31 Volumes  »  Palace-Tomb of Taj Mahal

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

India: Agra

Palace-Tomb of Taj Mahal

By Shah Jehan (1592–1666)

Anonymous translation

THIS lovely and beautiful tomb

Is like those in the time of Kais,

A place for lovers to slumber.

The floor is sweet with amber,

As in the seventh heaven,

Or a temple built in Paradise.

The air is hung with fragrance,

And houris fan its corridors

With shadow-drooping eyelashes.

Its walls and portals are set with jewels,

And pure is its air and sweet its water,

Which its architect lured from the Chusma-i-Faiz.

Continually from clouds of mercy

Falls the rain on its lofty dome.

Should any one enter its holy precinct,

And ask a boon of the One High God,

Allah will hear and grant the favor.

Every one here is hospitable.

One might imagine the gentle breezes

Left this place receiving nothing.

But are they not laden with the aroma

Breathed by the plant called the Flower of Generosity?

The blossoms laugh, but hide their faces.

The clouds rain, but it is the rain of compassion.

When any sinner here seeks protection,

His sins are forgiven as though he were in heaven,

The buds of the trees burst with smothered laughter.

Unannoyed by the breathings of the zephyr,

While the blushing blossoms expand and sweeten,

The modest breezes hide behind the curtain,

Knowing that here reclines a spotless beauty.

All who seek protection here will find it,

Since to Allah the place is consecrated.

Even should the wicked dare to creep hither,

The pages kept by the Recording Angel

Will be washed clean, and sparkle pure and spotless.

When the sun and moon see this mausoleum

Their eyes grow full with the tears of compassion.

In this place, crowned with heaven’s azure,

The sun himself is a recipient of favors.

And as soon as he retires the moon emerges,

Glowing with anxiety to receive an equal bounty,

And adding to the constant expectancy of heaven.

Life here is pleasant, being full of loving-kindness

For the poor and alien, the pilgrim and the stranger.

Until now, was there ever an eternity?

Hath not Death himself removed his presence?

Surely not of earth could have been the builder,

Since the design was furnished him by heaven.

Firm are the foundations as the creed of the Faithful.

I know not where the colors were captured;

Possibly they came here to live forever.

When the builder made it, peace was his intention,—

Peace everlasting and a place of security.

When eternity laid its foundations,

The winter time of the year fled afar to the jungles.”