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

India: Elephanta, the Island

The Cave of Elephanta

By Letitia Elizabeth Landon (1802–1838)

WHAT know ye of them? Nothing,—there they stand

Gloomy as night, inscrutable as fate,

Altars no more divine, and shrines which know

Nor priests, nor votaries, nor sacrifice;

The stranger’s wonder all their worship now.

And yet coeval as the naked rock

Seem they with mother earth,—immutable;

Time, tempest, warfare, ordinary decay

Is not for these. The memory of man

Has lost their rise, although they are his work.

Two senses here are present,—one of power,

And one of nothingness; doth it not mock

The mighty mind to see the meaner part,

The task it taught its hands, outlast itself?

The temple was a type, a thing of stone

Built by laborious days which made up years;

The creed which hallowed it was of the soul;

And yet the creed hath passed,—the temple stands.