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

Asia Minor: Troy


By R. T. Nicholl

ALL the sweet day the favoring Zephyr sped

Our white-sailed pinnace o’er the wavy main,

And now, at eve, we watching from her head

Saw the dark outline of the Trojan plain,

Misty and dim, as things at distance seem

Through the fast-waning light of summer eve,

When, waking from their sultry, sad day-dream,

The wan-faced stars grow bright and cease to grieve.

And nearer yet and nearer grew the shore,

Which eve was tinting sober-gray and pale;

And louder swelled the long, low, broken roar

Of surges climbing o’er the loose-heaped shale.


Full soon we grated on the shingly beach;

Soon disembarked upon that storied shore,

Whose very rocks are eloquent to teach

A world of legend and forgotten lore.

Then parted; and I musing went along,

Half fearing it might prove delusion strange,

Or sweet enchantment of a magic song,

Which loud-spoke word might dissipate or change.

Still on; while overhead the moon alway

Kept on its course across the sea of sky,

Fathomless-blue, save for some cloudy spray,

And those bright isles, the stars that never die;

Until I reached a barrow long and low,

Which the tall grass clothed o’er and wild vines free,

That still, whenever any breeze did blow,

Waved shadowy like the falling of the sea;

And gazing thence upon the moonlit plain,

The voiceful silence of the saddening scene

Called up a city’s phantom to my brain,

And caused me muse of what Troy once had been.

How doth the memory of heroic deeds,

Wrought by the heroes of the elder time,

Clothe o’er thy site more than the mantling weeds,

And round thy brows a deathless laurel twine.

Just as those fires which lit the midnight sky,

Changing so many watchful tears to smiles,

Wafted to Hellas the exultant cry,

“Troja is fallen,” o’er the Grecian isles;

So doth thy story, mid the rocks of time,

Echo along the unending cycles through,

Pealing thy name in most melodious chime,

Ne’er growing fainter, nor its notes more few.

All to the magic of that world-sung song,

That god-breathed legend dost thou owe thy fame;

The golden weft the blind man wove so long,

Hath linked to immortality thy name.

His tale to many another’s lyre hath given

Its stirring echoes; and in every age

What story more than of thy woes hath riven

Their hearts who dream upon the poet’s page.

And though for long thou in the dust hast lain,

Still, still the visions of the mighty past,

The memory of thy struggle, and thy pain,

Thy god-built turrets,—these forever last.


Yet still ’twixt thee and Tenedos there pours

Just as of old the trough of angry sea,

And on the oozy sand still breaks and roars,

As when the black keels lined the yellow lea.

And still the pines of Ida wave aloft

Their tuneful, scented, dove-embowering shade;

And ’neath them twilight broods as gray and soft

As when of yore the shepherd Paris strayed

With glad Œnone; while their bleating flocks

Grazed the wild thyme bright with ambrosial dew;

And lovers piping ’neath the o’ershadowing rocks

Laded with love the breezes as they flew.

Still Simois wanders mid his voiceful reeds,

And Xanthus rolls his slender length along,

Telling the story of thy mighty deeds,

In lagging accents of a tearful song.

All these, O Troy,—thy streams and woody hill,

Thy barren beach whereon the long ships lay,

Thy famous isle,—the invaders haunt,—are still;

But Priam’s Ilion hath passed away.

Hath passed, I said; thy memory ne’er can fade!

The muse hath won thee from the dead again;

A golden glory crowns for aye thy shade;

Thou livest, O Troy, forever unto men!