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

Syria: Endor

Witch of Endor

By Nicholas Michell (1807–1880)

(From Ruins of Many Lands)

DARK Endor! canst thou now existing be?

How creeps the blood, as thus we gaze on thee!

Hath nothing changed? Time’s wave rolled on unfelt?

Is this the cave where Endor’s Sorceress dwelt?

Our fancy leaps past years,—we see her now

Stand in the midst, with scorched and withered brow;

She shakes her wand of might, and weaves her spell,

And calls on powers of air and fiends of hell.

And there leaned he, in stern though calm dismay,

Whom deep remorse and woe had made their prey,—

Who, wronged by men, and now cast off by God,

The fearful path of desperation trod,

And came to bid the dead unfold his doom,

And lift from future hours the veil of gloom.

She saw,—the witch moved back in pale affright,

And her bleared eyes shot forth a fiendish light:

He comes! in mantle clad, austere and old,

Around his brow the grave’s white napkin rolled;

He comes, in ghastly stillness rising slow,

Through opening earth, from Hades’ mists below!

For ah! not yet the soul hath winged away,

Wrapped in deep rest, till dawns the judgment-day.

Could Saul confront that Prophet’s risen shade,

With eye unblenching, spirit undismayed?

He never quailed in fight, but now he grew

Palsied with fear, his cheek of livid hue;

The grave’s cold atmosphere seemed round him cast,

That silence thrilled beyond the trumpet-blast;

Instinctive dread ran creeping to his heart,—

His hair stood up, his eyeballs seemed to start:

Yet still he gazed, retreating,—wildly stirred

His heaving breast, although he spoke no word;

Each pale limb shook,—he bowed,—to earth he clung,

And on his brow big drops of terror hung.

Then Samuel spoke: his words sepulchral came,

And pierced like fire the wretched monarch’s frame;

And Saul can answer now—alas! his fate

Is hopeless all, and more than desolate.

The battle lost,—his kingdom torn away,—

All clouds and darkness life’s fast-closing day.

Hark! ’t is the Shade declares: “Another sun,

Thou man of woe and crime! thy race is run;

To-morrow Hades opes its gloom for thee,

Thou and thy warrior sons shall be with me!”

And so it fell; the fierce unpitying foe

Triumphed o’er Saul, and laid his followers low;

And yonder rise those hills in lonely pride,

Where on his sword the king in anguish died,

And gentle Jonathan’s career was o’er,

To shield his friend, and warm with love no more.