Verse > John Greenleaf Whittier > The Poetical Works in Four Volumes
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John Greenleaf Whittier (1807–1892).  The Poetical Works in Four Volumes.  1892.
 
Religious Poems
The Holy Land
 
          Paraphrased from the lines in Lamartine’s Adieu to Marseilles, beginning
        “Je n’ai pas navigué sur l’océan de sable.”

I HAVE not felt, o’er seas of sand,
  The rocking of the desert bark;
Nor laved at Hebron’s fount my hand,
  By Hebron’s palm-trees cool and dark;
Nor pitched my tent at even-fall,        5
  On dust where Job of old has lain,
Nor dreamed beneath its canvas wall,
  The dream of Jacob o’er again.
 
One vast world-page remains unread;
  How shine the stars in Chaldea’s sky,        10
How sounds the reverent pilgrim’s tread,
  How beats the heart with God so nigh!
How round gray arch and column lone
  The spirit of the old time broods,
And sighs in all the winds that moan        15
  Along the sandy solitudes!
 
In thy tall cedars, Lebanon,
  I have not heard the nations’ cries,
Nor seen thy eagles stooping down
  Where buried Tyre in ruin lies.        20
The Christian’s prayer I have not said
  In Tadmor’s temples of decay,
Nor startled, with my dreary tread,
  The waste where Memnon’s empire lay.
 
Nor have I, from thy hallowed tide,        25
  O Jordan! heard the low lament,
Like that sad wail along thy side
  Which Israel’s mournful prophet sent!
Nor thrilled within that grotto lone
  Where, deep in night, the Bard of Kings        30
Felt hands of fire direct his own,
  And sweep for God the conscious strings.
 
I have not climbed to Olivet,
  Nor laid me where my Saviour lay,
And left His trace of tears as yet        35
  By angel eyes unwept away;
Nor watched, at midnight’s solemn time,
  The garden where His prayer and groan,
Wrung by His sorrow and our crime,
  Rose to One listening ear alone.        40
 
I have not kissed the rock-hewn grot
  Where in His mother’s arms He lay,
Nor knelt upon the sacred spot
  Where last His footsteps pressed the clay;
Nor looked on that sad mountain head,        45
  Nor smote my sinful breast, where wide
His arms to fold the world He spread,
  And bowed His head to bless—and died!

  1848.
 
 
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