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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Americas: Vol. XXX. 1876–79.

Introductory to South America

South America

By Nicholas Michell (1807–1880)

(From Ruins of Many Lands)

O LAND of wonders! full of all that ’s fair,

Sublime, and beautiful, in earth and air,

As thus, thou new-found world! from main to main,

We sweep, with Fancy’s eye, vast hill and plain,

On every side still countless ruins start,

To trace whose grandeur mocks the poet’s art.

From far Magellan’s Straits to rich Peru,

Where Cuzco’s palaces the desert strew;

Along the Andes piled, where modern man

Hath rarely climbed the awful scenes to scan;

From Amazon and Plata’s sun-bright streams,

To Northern woods where scarcely daylight gleams;

Thence to the Western lakes, and mountain peaks,

Where, in his cloud-rocked home, the eagle shrieks;

Relics of men unknown, and times of old,

Raising our awe, our wonder, we behold.

Mound, stately pyramid, and pictured wall,

That Asia’s creed and Egypt’s art recall;

Embattled towers, with ivy-banners gay,

And shrines that reptiles halve with grim Decay;

These nameless wrecks, to darkness long consigned,

Prompt to strange thought the curious, musing mind;

When built? and who their founders?—patient lore

To solve the question fails, the task gives o’er;

E’en daring Fancy scarce attempts to raise

The shadowy veil of long-departed days.