Home  »  Poems of Places An Anthology in 31 Volumes  »  The Enchanted Baths

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

The Barbary States: Algiers

The Enchanted Baths

By Robert Southey (1774–1843)

  • (From Thalaba the Destroyer, Book VI)
  • “The Hamman Meskouteen, the Silent or Inchanted Baths, are situated on a low ground, surrounded with mountains. There are several fountains that furnish the water, which is of an intense heat, and fall afterwards into the Zenati.”—Shaw’s Travels in Barbary.

  • THE SOUNDS which last he heard at night

    Awoke his recollection first at morn.

    A scene of wonders lay before his eyes.

    In mazy windings o’er the vale

    A thousand streamlets strayed,

    And in their endless course

    Had intersected deep the stony soil,

    With labyrinthine channels islanding

    A thousand rocks, which seemed

    Amid the multitudinous waters there

    Like clouds that freckle o’er the summer sky,

    The blue ethereal ocean circling each,

    And insulating all.

    Those islets of the living rock

    Were of a thousand shapes,

    And Nature with her various tints

    Diversified anew their thousand forms;

    For some were green with moss,

    Some ruddier tinged, or gray, or silver-white,

    And some with yellow lichens glowed like gold,

    Some sparkled sparry radiance to the sun.

    Here gushed the fountains up,

    Alternate light and blackness, like the play

    Of sunbeams on a warrior’s burnished arms.

    Yonder the river rolled, whose ample bed,

    Their sportive lingerings o’er,

    Received and bore away the confluent rills.

    This was a wild and wondrous scene,

    Strange and beautiful, as where

    By Oton-tala, like a sea of stars,

    The hundred sources of Hoangho burst.

    High mountains closed the vale,

    Bare rocky mountains, to all living things

    Inhospitable; on whose sides no herb

    Rooted, no insect fed, no bird awoke

    Their echoes, save the eagle, strong of wing,

    A lonely plunderer, that afar

    Sought in the vales his prey.