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

Persia: Shiraz


By Nicholas Michell (1807–1880)

(From Ruins of Many Lands)

CITY of palaces! how sweet the sight,

As there it spreads, all steeped in golden light!

Flashing as if some precious gem were set

On each rich dome and pointed minaret,

The plane and cypress lofty as the towers,

And homes still seen through intermingling bowers.

Behold the stir of life! the turbaned throng

Comes forth like bees, and pours the walks along:

Hark! from his shrine the Muezzin calls to prayer,

And far those sounds the wandering breezes bear:

“Allah is great!” seems whispering through the sky;

“Allah is great!” the caverned hills reply;

The peasant hears, and, kneeling on the sod

With face toward Mecca, breathes the name of God;

And e’en the child, mid blossomed groves at play,

Stops in his pastime—“God is great!” to say!


Shiraz! the proud! not yet her fame hath ceased,

Nurse of bright genius, Athens of the East!

Where, sage and poet, brilliant Sadi sprang,

And, crowned with Love’s own garlands, Hafiz sang,—

Hafiz, who shed Joy’s spell on every theme,

And painted life one rapturous summer dream.

With verdure still the poet’s lawns are clad,

Still roses bend o’er crystal Roknabad;

And maidens, like young peris, fresh and gay,

Dance ’neath the shades of bowery Mossela;

Now to crisp gold Morn turns the babbling waves

That murmur near the tuneful brothers’ graves,

And yew-trees, softening, cast no shade of gloom,

Bending like calm blessed watchers o’er each tomb.

But not for us the gorgeous city smiles,

With couch of softness, and sweet woman’s wiles;

’T is ours to urge our lone untiring way

Through wrecks of years, memorials of decay,

Striving with curious aim aside to cast

The veil which shrouds the Isis of the past.

Near Shiraz giant groups of ruin stand,

The pride of taste, the boast of Persia’s land:

The dark o’erhanging hills our footsteps gain,

Wild and majestic sweeps that mountain-chain;

No trees adorn the slopes, or corn, or flowers,

But ruined shrines of fire, and mouldered towers.

Ah! well the smile from azure skies hath gone,

And Nature here put Terror’s garment on:

The clouds their inky pall have hung on high,

The blast comes muttering like a spirit by.