Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > Greece
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Greece and Turkey in Europe: Vol. XIX.  1876–79.
 
Turkey in Europe, and the Principalities
Bosphorus (Straits of Constantinople)
The Bosphorus Revisited
Seymour Green Wheeler Benjamin (1837–1914)
 
HAS earth a lovelier sight to show
Than yonder strait whose waters flow
Bordered with vineyards, summer bowers,
White palaces, and ivied towers?
How mellow upon snowy walls        5
The tranquil light of morning falls;
The various tints how softly blent
On distant hill and battlement;
What gleaming mist half veils the slopes,
Fair as the haze of youthful hopes;        10
How darkly blue or lucent green
The current in the noonday sheen
Goes by, anon impearled with spray,
Or lingering in some sheltered bay,
Where charmed pavilions skirt the marge,        15
Where idly floats the fisher’s barge,
And ancient plane-trees shade the stream,
Bidding the passer there to dream,
Lapped in the arms of peaceful rest,
As in the Islands of the Blest.        20
 
There let my footsteps lead me down
To gaze on palace, tower, and town;
To taste the grape of purple hue,
And peel the fig ice-cool with dew;
To breathe the influence of the clime,        25
And smoke the lotus of our time;
Watching the white-winged vessels glide
Like flocks of sea-fowl down the tide,
Lulled by the sound of plunging oars
Echoing along the wooded shores,        30
Or soothed by the eerie wind that roves
With whispers through the slumberous groves,
Or dances through the tossing vines
And sweeps the harp of dark-robed pines,
Low murmuring to the dreamer’s ears        35
The requiem for the dying years.
 
There let me linger till the rays
Of sunset make the sky ablaze
With vast magnificence that fires
The imperial city’s thousand spires.        40
See, in the west, how, fold on fold,
The clouds are gathered, massive gold;
What glowing purple robes the shore,
Richer than monarchs ever wore;
The hill-tops and the distant isles        45
Reflect the sun’s departing smiles;
The very cypresses that keep
Stern watch above the dead man’s sleep
Have caught the glory of the scene,
And woven its purple with their green.        50
Then twilight’s veil steals softly down
O’er ruined tower and droning town;
Lights quiver on the glassy deep,
Ships at their moorings lie asleep,
From festal halls voluptuous strains        55
Float gently by in soft refrains,
The nightingale’s delicious trills
Ring in the covert of the hills;
And hark, upon the swooning air,
The solemn voice that calls to prayer.        60
But lo! the moon majestic looms
Above the sea, and braids the glooms
Of evening with her argent light,
And summons to my wondering sight
The brave and fair of olden time        65
Who dwelt in this enchanted clime.
*        *        *        *        *
Then let me tarry here awhile,
O land of roses! in the smile
O’ th’ Eastern sun; in the serene
Elysian light of midnight’s queen;        70
Thankful that Time—who turns our gold
To ashes, cramps us in a mould
Of social forms, and gives, instead
Of youth’s gay garlands crushed and dead,
The abstractions of philosophy,        75
Too purely cold to satisfy
The ardent, earnest, restless soul
Whose passionate yearnings scorn control—
Has left me still the power to enjoy
The beautiful without alloy.        80
The fervor of my earlier days
Still warms my bosom when I gaze
On all the lovely and sublime
In this my own, my native clime.
I count among God’s choicest gifts        85
That love of beauty which uplifts
The weary soul above the prose
Of life’s routine, its toil and woes;
That subtle spirit of poesy
That joins the soul in harmony        90
With outward objects, that imbues
The humblest things with magic hues,
Sublimes our nature, and allies
Our mortal being with the skies.
 
 
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