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

Arabia: Desert of Arabia

The Whirlwind

By Robert Southey (1774–1843)

(From Thalaba the Destroyer, Book IV)

WHILST he spake, Lobaba’s eye,

Upon the distance fixed,

Attended not his speech.

Its fearful meaning drew

The looks of Thalaba;

Columns of sand came moving on,

Red in the burning ray,

Like obelisks of fire,

They rushed before the driving wind.

Vain were all thoughts of flight!

They had not hoped escape,

Could they have backed the dromedary then,

Who in his rapid race

Gives to the tranquil air a drowning force.

High,—high in heaven upcurled

The dreadful sand-spouts moved;

Swift as the whirlwind that impelled their way,

They came toward the travellers!

The old magician shrieked,

And lo! the foremost bursts,

Before the whirlwind’s force,

Scattering afar a burning shower of sand.