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  The Holy Land  

 

Paraphrased from the lines in Lamartine's Adieu to Marseilles, beginning

"Je n'ai pas navigue sur l'ocean 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,
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,
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
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.
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,
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
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
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.

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,
Nor smote my sinful breast, where wide
His arms to fold the world He spread,
And bowed His head to bless--and died!

       - John Greenleaf Whittier


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