Home  »  Poems of Places An Anthology in 31 Volumes  »  The Last Crusader

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

Introductory to Syria

The Last Crusader

By Edward, Lord Lytton (1803–1873)

LEFT to the Saviour’s conquering foes,

The land that girds the Saviour’s grave;

Where Godfrey’s crosier-standard rose,

He saw the crescent-banner wave.

There, o’er the gently broken vale,

The halo-light on Zion glowed;

There Kedron, with a voice of wail,

By tombs of saints and heroes flowed;

There still the olives silver o’er

The dimness of the distant hill;

There still the flowers that Sharon bore,

Calm air with many an odor fill.

Slowly the last Crusader eyed

The towers, the mount, the stream, the plain,

And thought of those whose blood had dyed

The earth with crimson streams in vain!

He thought of that sublime array,

The hosts that over land and deep

The Hermit marshalled on their way,

To see those towers, and halt to weep!

Resigned the loved familiar lands,

O’er burning wastes the cross to bear,

And rescue from the Paynim’s hands

The empire of a sepulchre!

And vain the hope, and vain the loss,

And vain the famine and the strife:

In vain the faith that bore the cross,

The valor prodigal of life!

And vain was Richard’s lion-soul,

And guileless Godfrey’s patient mind,—

Like waves on shore, they reached the goal,

To die, and leave no trace behind!

“O God!” the last Crusader cried,

“And art thou careless of thine own?

For us thy Son in Salem died,

And Salem is the scoffer’s throne!

“And shall we leave, from age to age,

To godless hands the holy tomb?

Against thy saints the heathen rage,—

Launch forth thy lightnings and consume!”

Swift, as he spoke, before his sight

A form flashed, white-robed, from above;

All Heaven was in those looks of light,

But Heaven, whose native air is love.

“Alas!” the solemn vision said,

“Thy God is of the shield and spear,—

To bless the quick and raise the dead,

The Saviour-God descended here!

“Ask not the Father to reward

The hearts that seek, through blood, the Son;

O warrior! never by the sword

The Saviour’s Holy Land is won!”