Home  »  Poems of Places An Anthology in 31 Volumes  »  The Tower of Babel

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

Mesopotamia: Babylon

The Tower of Babel

By Nicholas Michell (1807–1880)

(From Ruins of Many Lands)

FAR in the Eastern wild, begirt by sands,

A rugged pile, like some grim giant, stands:

Rude stones, that once, perchance, with beaming grace

Had glowed in statues, strew its circling base;

Though crushed the halls that Time’s dread secrets keep,

Still, stage on stage, the crumbling platforms sweep:

High on its brow a dark mass rears its form,

Defying ages, mocking fire and storm:

Struck by a thousand lightnings, still ’t is there,

As proud in ruin, haughty in despair.

O oldest fabric reared by hands of man!

Built ere Art’s dawn on Europe’s shores began!

Rome’s mouldering shrines, and Tadmor’s columns gray,

Beside yon mass, seem things of yesterday!

In breathless awe, in musing reverence, bow,

’T is hoary Babel glooms before you now;

The tower at which the Almighty’s shaft was hurled,

The mystery, fear, and wonder of the world!