Dark hills of Moab! flinging down
Your shadows on this gloomy vale;
Wild chasms! through which desert wind
Rushes, in everlasting wail.
Mountains of silence! keeping watch
Above this stagnant, sullen wave,
Where sunshine seems to smile in vain
O’er Sodom’s melancholy grave.
Day’s youngest beauty and its last
Bathes your broad foreheads, stern and bare;
Yet all unsoftened is their frown;
No cheer, no love, no beauty there.
I may not climb your awful slopes;
Yet, standing on this hungry shore,
By this poor reed-brake of the sand,
I count your shadows o’er and o’er.
In this lone lake, your ancient roots
Lie steeped in bitterness and death;
Your summits rise all verdureless,
Scorched by its hot and hellish breath.
Yon sea! its molten silver spreads,
And steams into the burning air;
Yon sunlight that across it plays,
How sad, and yet how strangely fair.
Haunt of old riot and lewd song,
When Sodom spread its splendor here;
O sea of wrath, how silent now!
The shroud of cities and their bier.
O valley of the shade of death!
O sea, of ancient sin the tomb!
O hills, sin’s hoary monument,
And type of the eternal doom!
Well might the prophet’s curse have come
From peaks where horrors only dwell;
And idol altars smoke on cliffs
That seem the very gates of hell!
And yet ye gaze on Judah’s vales,
Ye hear the rush of Jordan’s flood!
Ye looked on Zion’s palace hill,
And saw the temple of our God!