Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > Asia
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Asia: Vols. XXI–XXIII.  1876–79.
 
Syria: Nebo, the Mount
Mount Nebo
Ferdinand Freiligrath (1810–1876)
 
Translated by J. Gostick

UPON the banks of Jordan,
  The host of Israel’s name,
All Jacob’s seed encampéd,
  Who out of Egypt came.
There lay the tribes, wide-spreading,—        5
  There rest the pilgrims found,
Weary, with long years treading
  The sandy desert round.
 
There from their hands the wanderers
  Their staves have laid aside,        10
And spread them woollen blankets,
  Their girdles loosening wide!
And on their robes reclining
  In picturesque array,
The brown and swarthy travellers,        15
  With beards dark-curling, lay.
 
Their tent-staves there were pitchéd,
  Their linen veils outspread,
And in the midst was raiséd
  The Tabernacle’s head.        20
Between them and the sunbeams
  Green foliage shadow flings,
They filled their leathern bottles
  At fresh cool water-springs.
 
With oil their bodies laving,        25
  They washed away the sand;
The driver there was stroking
  The camel with his hand;
And in the pastures round them
  The quiet cattle lay;        30
Wild horses stared and bounded
  With flowing manes away.
 
The weary joined in praises,
  With hands upraised to heaven,
That now to all their travels        35
  The longed-for end was given.
But some were busy whetting
  Their swords with eager hand,
To combat for the pastures
  Of their rich green fatherland.        40
 
It seemed for them awaiting,—
  A land of endless store,
Like God’s own garden smiling
  On Jordan’s other shore.
Through many a desert-journey        45
  In spirit they had seen
That land of milk and honey,
  Now lying there so green!
 
They shouted in the valley
  “Canaan!” with joyous tone,—        50
Their leader up the pathway
  Of the mountain toiled alone.
His snow-white locks were flowing
  About his shoulders spread,
And golden beams were glowing        55
  Upon his reverend head.
 
To see the promised country,
  Before he died, intent,
Rapt in the glorious vision,
  He, trembling, forwards bent.        60
There glittered all the pastures,
  With thousand charms outspread,—
The land he sees with longing,
  The land he ne’er must tread!
 
The plains, far out extending,        65
  All rich with corn and vines,
And many a white stream, wending
  Through rich green meadows, shines.
With milk and honey flowing
  As far as eye can span,        70
All in the sunshine glowing
  From Beersheba to Dan.
 
“Canaan! Mine eyes have seen thee!
  Let death undreaded come!
In gentle whispers breathing,        75
  Lord! call thy servant home!”
On light soft clouds descending
  Upon the mountain’s brow
He came;—the pilgrim people
  Have lost their leader now!        80
 
Upon the mountain brightening
  ’T is glorious there to die!
When all the clouds are whitening
  In the radiant morning sky;
Far down below beholding        85
  Wood, field, and winding stream,—
And lo! above unfolding
  Heaven’s golden portals gleam.
 
 
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