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

Syria: Jehoshaphat (Kedron), the Valley

The Valley of Jehoshaphat

By Lydia Huntley Sigourney (1791–1865)

COME, Son of Israel, scorned in every land,

Outcast and wandering,—come with mournful step

Down to the dark vale of Jehoshaphat,

And weigh the remnant of thy hoarded gold

To buy thyself a grave among the bones

Of patriarchs and of prophets and of kings.

It is a glorious place to take thy rest,

Poor child of Abraham, mid those awful scenes,

And sceptred monarchs, who, with Faith’s keen eye

Piercing the midnight darkness that o’erhung

Messiah’s coming, gave their dying flesh

Unto the worm, with such a lofty trust

In the strong promise of the invisible.

Here are damp gales to lull thy dreamless sleep,

And murmuring recollections of that lyre

Whose passing sweetness bore King David’s prayer

Up to the ear of Heaven, and of that strain

With which the weeping prophet dirge-like sung

Doomed Zion’s visioned woes. Yon rifted rocks,

So faintly purpled by the westering sun,

Reveal the unguarded walls, the silent towers,

Where, in her stricken pomp, Jerusalem

Sleeps like a palsied princess, from whose head

The diadem hath fallen. Still half concealed

In the deep bosom of that burial-vale

A fitful torrent, ’neath its time-worn arch

Hurries with hoarse tale mid the echoing tombs.

Thou too art near, rude-featured Olivet;

So honored of my Saviour.
Tell me where

His blessed knees thy flinty bosom prest,

When all night long his wrestling prayer went up,

That I may pour my tear-wet orison

Upon that sacred spot. Thou Lamb of God!

Who for our sakes wert wounded unto death,

Bid blinded Zion turn from Sinai’s fires

Her tortured foot, and from the thundering law

Her terror-stricken ear rejoicing raise

Unto the Gospel’s music. Bring again

Thy scattered people who so long have borne

A fearful punishment, so long wrung out

The bitter dregs of pale astonishment

Into the wine-cup of the wondering earth.

And O, to us, who from our being’s dawn

Lisp out Salvation’s lessons, yet do stray

Like erring sheep, to us thy Spirit give

That we may keep thy law and find thy fold,

Ere in the desolate city of the dead

We make our tenement, while Earth doth blot

Our history from the record of mankind.