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

Syria: Lebanon, the Mount

The Cedars of Lebanon

By Letitia Elizabeth Landon (1802–1838)

YE ancients of the earth, beneath whose shade

Swept the fierce banners of earth’s mightiest kings,

When millions for a battle were arrayed,

And the sky darkened with the vulture’s wings.

Long silence followed on the battle-cries;

First the bones whitened, then were seen no more;

The summer grasses sprang for summer skies,

And dim tradition told no tales of yore.

The works of peace succeeded those first wars,

Men left the desert tents for marble walls;

Then rose the towers from whence they watched the stars,

And the vast wonders of their kingly halls.

And they are perished,—those imperial towers

Read not amid the midnight stars their doom;

The pomp and art of all their glorious hours

Lie hidden in the sands that are their tomb.

And ye, ancestral trees, are somewhat shorn

Of the first strength that marked earth’s earlier clime:

But still ye stand, stately and tempest-worn,

To show how nature triumphs over time.

Much have ye witnessed,—but yet more remains;

The mind’s great empire is but just begun;

The desert beauty of your distant plains

Proclaim how much has yet been left undone.

Will not your giant columns yet behold

The world’s old age, enlightened, calm, and free;

More glorious than the glories known of old,—

The spirit’s placid rule o’er land and sea?

All that the past has taught is not in vain,—

Wisdom is garnered up from centuries gone;

Love, Hope, and Mind prepare a nobler reign

Than ye have known,—Cedars of Lebanon!