Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, PERSIA, by ALFRED TENNYSON

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PERSIA, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Land of bright eye and lofty brow!
Last Line: Whence cynics rail'd at human pride.
Alternate Author Name(s): Tennyson, Lord Alfred; Tennyson, 1st Baron; Tennyson Of Aldworth And Farringford, Baron
Subject(s): Iran; Persia

LAND of bright eye and lofty brow!
Whose every gale is balmy breath
Of incense from some sunny flower,
Which on tall hill or valley low,
In clustering maze or circling wreath,
Sheds perfume; or in blooming bower
Of Schiraz or of Ispahan,
In bower untrod by foot of man,
Clasps round the green and fragrant stem
Of lotos, fair and fresh and blue,
And crowns it with a diadem
Of blossoms, ever young and new;
Oh! lives there yet within thy soul
Ought of the fire of him who led
Thy troops, and bade thy thunder roll
O'er lone Assyria's crownless head?
I tell thee, had that conqueror red
From Thymbria's plain beheld thy fall
When stormy Macedonia swept
Thine honours from thee one and all,
He would have wail'd, he would have wept,
That thy proud spirit should have bow'd
To Alexander, doubly proud.
Oh! Iran! Iran! had he known
The downfall of his mighty throne,
Or had he seen that fatal night,
When the young king of Macedon
In madness led his veterans on,
And Thais held the funeral light,
Around that noble pile which rose
Irradiant with the pomp of gold,
In high Persepolis of old,
Encompass'd with its frenzied foes;
He would have groan'd, he would have spread
The dust upon his laurell'd head,
To view the setting of that star,
Which beam'd so gorgeously and far
O'er Anatolia, and the fane
Of Belus, and Caister's plain,
And Sardis, and the glittering sands
Of bright Pactolus, and the lands
Where Croesus held his rich domain:
On fair Diarbeck's land of spice,
Adiabene's plains of rice,
Where down th' Euphrates, swift and strong,
The shield-like kuphars bound along;
And sad Cunaxa's field, where, mixing
With host to adverse host oppos'd,
'Mid clashing shield and spear transfixing,
The rival brothers sternly clos'd.
And further east, where, broadly roll'd,
Old Indus pours his stream of gold;
And there, where tumbling deep and hoarse,
Blue Ganga leaves her vaccine source;
Loveliest of all the lovely streams
That meet immortal Titan's beams,
And smile upon their fruitful way
Beneath his golden orient ray:
And southward to Cilicia's shore,
Where Cydnus meets the billows' roar,
And where the Syrian gates divide
The meeting realms on either side;
E'en to the land of Nile, whose crops
Bloom rich beneath his bounteous swell,
To hot Syene's wondrous well,
Nigh to the long-liv'db AEthiops.
And northward far to Trebizonde,
Renown'd for kings of chivalry,
Near where old Hyssus, from the strand,
Disgorges in the Euxine sea --
The Euxine, falsely nam'd, which whelms
The mariner in the heaving tide,
To high Sinope's distant realms,
Whence cynics rail'd at human pride.

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