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.
 
Arabia: El Ghor
The Rock in El Ghor
John Greenleaf Whittier (1807–1892)
 
DEAD Petra in her hill-tomb sleeps,
  Her stones of emptiness remain;
Around her sculptured mystery sweeps
  The lonely waste of Edom’s plain.
 
From the doomed dwellers in the cleft        5
  The bow of vengeance turns not back;
Of all her myriads none are left
  Along the Wady Mousa’s track.
 
Clear in the hot Arabian day
  Her arches spring, her statues climb;        10
Unchanged, the graven wonders pay
  No tribute to the spoiler, Time!
 
Unchanged the awful lithograph
  Of power and glory undertrod,—
Of nations scattered like the chaff        15
  Blown from the threshing-floor of God.
 
Yet shall the thoughtful stranger turn
  From Petra’s gates, with deeper awe,
To mark afar the burial urn
  Of Aaron on the cliffs of Hor;        20
 
And where upon its ancient guard
  Thy Rock, El Ghor, is standing yet,—
Looks from its turrets desertward,
  And keeps the watch that God has set.
 
The same as when in thunders loud        25
  It heard the voice of God to man,—
As when it saw in fire and cloud
  The angels walk in Israel’s van!
 
Or when from Ezion-Geber’s way
  It saw the long procession file,        30
And heard the Hebrew timbrels play
  The music of the lordly Nile;
 
Or saw the tabernacle pause,
  Cloud-bound, by Kadesh Barnea’s wells,
While Moses graved the sacred laws,        35
  And Aaron swung his golden bells.
 
Rock of the desert, prophet-sung!
  How grew its shadowing pile at length,
A symbol, in the Hebrew tongue,
  Of God’s eternal love and strength.        40
 
On lip of bard and scroll of seer,
  From age to age went down the name,
Until the Shiloh’s promised year,
  And Christ, the Rock of Ages, came!
 
The path of life we walk to-day        45
  Is strange as that the Hebrews trod;
We need the shadowing rock, as they,—
  We need, like them, the guides of God.
 
God send his angels, Cloud and Fire,
  To lead us o’er the desert sand!        50
God give our hearts their long desire,
  His shadow in a weary land!
 
 
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