Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Africa: Vol. XXIV. 1876–79.

Central and Southern Africa: Soudan


By Arthur Henry Hallam (1811–1833)


BEYOND the clime of Tripoly, and beyond

Bahr Abiad, where the lone peaks, unconform

To other hills, and with rare foliage crowned,

Hold converse with the moon, a city stands

Which yet no mortal guest hath ever found.

Around it stretch away the level sands

Into the silence: pausing in his course,

The ostrich kens it from his subject lands.

Here with faint longings and a subdued force

Once more was sought the ideal aliment

Of man’s most subtle being, the prime source

Of all his blessings: here might still be blent

Whate’er of heavenly beauty in form or sound

Illumes the poet’s heart with ravishment.

Thou fairy city, which the desert mound

Encompasseth, thou alien from the mass

Of human guilt, I would not wish thee found!

Perchance thou art too pure, and dost surpass

Too far amid the ideas ranged high

In the Eternal Reason’s perfectness,

To our deject and most embaséd eye,

To look unharmed on thy integrity,

Symbol of love, and truth, and all that cannot die.

Thy palaces and pleasure-domes to me

Are matter of strange thought: for sure thou art

A splendor in the wild: and aye to thee

Did visible guardians of the earth’s great heart

Bring their choice tributes, culled from many a mine,

Diamond, and jasper, porphyry, and the art

Of figured chrysolite: nor silver shine

There wanted, nor the mightier power of gold:

So wert thou reared of yore, city divine!

And who are they of blisses manifold,

That dwell within thee? Spirits of delight,

It may be spirits whose pure thoughts enfold,

In eminence of being, all the light

That interpenetrates this mighty all,

And doth endure in its own beauty’s right.

And oh, the vision were majestical

To them, indeed, of column, and of spire,

And hanging garden, and hoar waterfall!

For we, poor prisoners of this earthy mire,

See little; they the essence and the law

Robing each other in its peculiar tire.

Yet moments have been, when in thought I saw

That city rise upon me from the void,

Populous with men: and fantasy would draw

Such portraiture of life, that I have joyed

In over-measure to behold her work,

Rich with the myriad charms, by evil unalloyed.