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

Mesopotamia: Euphrates, the River

The Euphrates

By Henry Hart Milman (1791–1868)

(From Belshazzar)

THE HOUR is come! the hour is come! With voice

Heard in thy inmost soul, I summon thee,

Cyrus, the Lord’s anointed! And thou river,

That flow’st exulting in thy proud approach

To Babylon, beneath whose shadowy walls

And brazen gates, and gilded palaces,

And groves that gleam with marble obelisks,

Thy azure bosom shall repose, with lights

Fretted and checkered like the starry heavens:

I do arrest thee in thy stately course,

By Him that poured thee from thine ancient fountain,

And sent thee forth, even at the birth of time,

One of his holy streams, to lave the mounts

Of Paradise. Thou hear’st me: thou dost check

Abrupt thy waters, as the Arab chief

His headlong squadrons. Where the unobserved

Yet toiling Persian breaks the ruining mound,

I see thee gather thy tumultuous strength:

And, through the deep and roaring Naharmalcha,

Roll on, as proudly conscious of fulfilling

The Omnipotent command! While, far away,

The lake, that slept but now so calm, nor moved

Save by the rippling moonshine, heaves on high

Its foaming surface, like a whirlpool gulf,

And boils and whitens with the unwonted tide.