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

Introductory to Asia

The Poet in the East

By Bayard Taylor (1825–1878)

THE POET came to the Land of the East,

When Spring was in the air:

The Earth was dressed for a wedding feast,

So young she seemed, and fair;

And the Poet knew the Land of the East,—

His soul was native there.

All things to him were the visible forms

Of early and precious dreams,—

Familiar visions that mocked his quest

Beside the Western streams,

Or gleamed in the gold of the clouds, unrolled

In the sunset’s dying beams.

He looked above in the cloudless calm,

And the Sun sat on his throne;

The breath of gardens, deep in balm,

Was all about him blown,

And a brother to him was the princely Palm,

For he cannot live alone.

His feet went forth on the myrtled hills,

And the flowers their welcome shed;

The meads of milk-white asphodel

They knew the Poet’s tread,

And far and wide, in a scarlet tide,

The poppy’s bonfire spread.

And, half in shade and half in sun,

The Rose sat in her bower,

With a passionate thrill in her crimson heart,—

She had waited for the hour!

And, like a bride’s, the Poet kissed

The lips of the glorious flower.

Then the Nightingale, who sat above

In the boughs of the citron-tree,

Sang: “We are no rivals, brother mine,

Except in minstrelsy;

For the rose you kissed with the kiss of love,

She is faithful still to me.”

And further sang the Nightingale:

“Your bower not distant lies.

I heard the sound of a Persian lute

From the jasmined window rise,

And, twin-bright stars, through the lattice-bars,

I saw the Sultana’s eyes.”

The Poet said: “I will here abide,

In the Sun’s unclouded door;

Here are the wells of all delight

On the lost Arcadian shore:

Here is the light on sea and land,

And the dream deceives no more.”