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.
 
Introductory to Chinese Empire
At the Banquet to the Chinese Embassy
Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809–1894)
 
August 21, 1868

BROTHERS, whom we may not reach
Through the veil of alien speech,
Welcome! welcome! eyes can tell
What the lips in vain would spell,—
Words that hearts can understand,        5
Brothers from the Flowery Land!
 
We, the evening’s latest born,
Hail the children of the morn!
We, the new creation’s birth,
Greet the lords of ancient earth,        10
From their storied walls and towers
Wandering to these tents of ours!
 
Land of wonders, fair Cathay,
Who long hast shunned the staring day,
Hid in mists of poet’s dreams        15
By thy blue and yellow streams,—
Let us thy shadowed form behold,—
Teach us as thou didst of old.
 
Knowledge dwells with length of days;
Wisdom walks in ancient ways;        20
Thine the compass that could guide
A nation o’er the stormy tide,
Scourged by passions, doubts, and fears,
Safe through thrice a thousand years!
 
Looking from thy turrets gray,        25
Thou hast seen the world’s decay,—
Egypt drowning in her sands,—
Athens rent by robbers’ hands,—
Rome, the wild barbarian’s prey,
Like a storm-cloud swept away:        30
 
Looking from thy turrets gray,
Still we see thee. Where are they?
And lo! a new-born nation waits,
Sitting at the Golden Gates
That glitter by the sunset sea,—        35
Waits with outspread arms for thee!
 
Open wide, ye gates of gold,
To the Dragon’s banner-fold!
Builders of the mighty wall,
Bid your mountain barriers fall!        40
So may the girdle of the sun
Bind the East and West in one,
 
Till Mount Shasta’s breezes fan
The snowy peaks of Ta-Sieue-Shan,—
Till Erie blends its waters blue        45
With the waves of Tung-Ting-Hu,—
Till deep Missouri lends its flow
To swell the rushing Hoang-Ho!
 
 
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