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.
 
Mesopotamia: Bagdad
Recollections of the Arabian Nights
Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809–1892)
 
WHEN the breeze of a joyful dawn blew free
  In the silken sail of infancy,
The tide of time flowed back with me,
  The forward-flowing tide of time;
And many a sheeny summer-morn,        5
Adown the Tigris I was borne,
By Bagdat’s shrines of fretted gold,
High-walléd gardens green and old;
True Mussulman was I and sworn,
  For it was in the golden prime        10
    Of good Haroun Alraschid.
 
Anight my shallop, rustling through
The low and blooméd foliage, drove
The fragrant, glistening deeps, and clove
The citron-shadows in the blue:        15
By garden porches on the brim,
The costly doors flung open wide,
Gold glittering through lamplight dim,
And broidered sofas on each side;
  In sooth it was a goodly time,        20
  For it was in the golden prime
    Of good Haroun Alraschid.
 
Often, where clear stemmed platans guard
The outlet, did I turn away
The boat-head down a broad canal        25
From the main river sluiced, where all
The sloping of the moonlit sward
Was damask-work, and deep inlay
Of braided blooms unmown, which crept
Adown to where the water slept.        30
  A goodly place, a goodly time,
  For it was in the golden prime
    Of good Haroun Alraschid.
 
A motion from the river won
Ridged the smooth level, bearing on        35
My shallop through the star-strown calm,
Until another night in night
I entered, from the clearer light,
Imbowered vaults of pillared palm,
Imprisoning sweets, which, as they clomb        40
Heavenward, were stayed beneath the dome
  Of hollow boughs. A goodly time,
  For it was in the golden prime
    Of good Haroun Alraschid.
 
Still onward; and the clear canal        45
Is rounded to as clear a lake.
From the green rivage many a fall
Of diamond rillets musical,
Through little crystal arches low
Down from the central fountain’s flow        50
Fallen silver-chiming, seemed to shake
The sparkling flints beneath the prow,
  A goodly place, a goodly time,
  For it was in the golden prime
    Of good Haroun Alraschid.        55
 
Above through many a bowery turn
A walk with vary-colored shells
Wandered engrained. On either side
All round about the fragrant marge
From fluted vase, and brazen urn        60
In order, Eastern flowers large,
Some dropping low their crimson bells
Half-closed, and others studded wide
  With disks and tiars, fed the time
  With odor in the golden prime        65
    Of good Haroun Alraschid.
 
Far off, and where the lemon grove
In closest coverture upsprung,
The living airs of middle night
Died round the bulbul as he sung;        70
Not he: but something which possessed
The darkness of the world, delight,
Life, anguish, death, immortal love,
Ceasing not, mingled, unrepressed,
  Apart from place, withholding time,        75
  But flattering the golden prime
    Of good Haroun Alraschid.
 
Black the garden-bowers and grots
Slumbered; the solemn palms were ranged
Above, unwooed of summer wind:        80
A sudden splendor from behind
Flushed all the leaves with rich gold-green,
And, flowing rapidly between
Their interspaces, counterchanged
The level lake with diamond plots        85
  Of dark and bright. A lovely time,
  For it was in the golden prime
    Of good Haroun Alraschid.
 
Dark-blue the deep sphere overhead,
Distinct with vivid stars inlaid,        90
Grew darker from that under-flame:
So, leaping lightly from the boat,
With silver anchor left afloat,
In marvel whence that glory came
Upon me, as in sleep I sank        95
In cool soft turf upon the bank,
  Entrancéd with that place and time,
  So worthy of the golden prime
    Of good Haroun Alraschid.
 
Thence through the garden I was drawn,—        100
A realm of pleasance, many a mound,
And many a shadow-checkered lawn
Full of the city’s stilly sound,
And deep myrrh-thickets blowing round
The stately cedar, tamarisks,        105
Thick rosaries of scented thorn,
Tall orient shrubs, and obelisks,
  Graven with emblems of the time,
  In honor of the golden prime
    Of good Haroun Alraschid.        110
 
With dazéd vision unawares
From the long alley’s latticed shade
Emerged, I came upon the great
Pavilion of the Caliphat.
Right to the carven cedarn doors,        115
Flung inward over spangled floors,
Broad-baséd nights of marble stairs
Ran up with golden balustrade,
  After the fashion of the time,
  And humor of the golden prime        120
    Of good Haroun Alraschid.
 
The fourscore windows all alight
As with the quintessence of flame,
A million tapers flaring bright
From twisted silvers looked to shame        125
The hollow-vaulted dark, and streamed
Upon the moonéd domes aloof
In inmost Bagdat, till there seemed
Hundreds of crescents on the roof
  Of night new-risen, that marvellous time        130
  To celebrate the golden prime
    Of good Haroun Alraschid.
 
Then stole I up, and trancédly
Gazed on the Persian girl alone,
Serene with argent-lidded eyes        135
Amorous, and lashes like to rays
Of darkness, and a brow of pearl
Tresséd with redolent ebony,
In many a dark delicious curl,
Flowing beneath her rose-hued zone;        140
  The sweetest lady of the time,
  Well worthy of the golden prime
    Of good Haroun Alraschid.
 
Six columns, three on either side,
Pure silver, underpropt a rich        145
Throne of the massive ore, from which
Down-drooped, in many a floating fold,
Engarlanded and diapered
With inwrought flowers, a cloth of gold.
Thereon, his deep eye laughter-stirred        150
With merriment of kingly pride,
  Sole star of all that place and time.
  I saw him in his golden prime,
    The good Haroun Alraschid!
 
 
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