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

Syria: Jordan, the River

The River Jordan

By Nicholas Michell (1807–1880)

(From Ruins of Many Lands)

FEW ruins now those willowy banks disclose,

But fresh as in old days the current flows;

Here lofty reeds and palms shut out the beam,

And there romantic rocks o’erhang the stream.

Rare flowers, man trains not, deck the mossy ground,

And each slight breeze wafts almond-blooms around;

The bee secure along the lilied shore

Winds her blithe horn, and steals her honeyed store;

Blue skies look down on bluer waves; the air

Is soft and fragrant, as some angel there,

Just flown from Paradise, had spread his plume,

Hushing the earth, and shaking round perfume.

Sweet Jordan! surely here sad hearts might rest,

And calm Religion love a scene so blest.

How famed this lonely tract in sacred lore!

’T was here the desert prophet roamed of yore;

Far south dark Nebo lifts its hoary head,

Whence Moses viewed the land he could not tread,

Toward Canaan cast his dim-beholding eye,

And blessed the scene before he sank to die.

Here, too, the mighty seer, Elijah came,

And rose to heaven, upborne by steeds of flame.

In yon wild valley mouldered Ammon lowers,

And shattered walls are seen, and fallen towers;

There reigned a king who swayed these palmy plains;

No child of Lot, no subject now remains;

Lone sits the stork in Ammon’s royal halls,

And from her reed-grown courts the bull-frog calls.