George Canning

Here you will find the Long Poem The pilgrimage to Mecca of poet George Canning

The pilgrimage to Mecca

What holy rites Mohammed's laws ordain, 
What various duties bind his faithful train,-- 
What pious zeal his scatter'd tribes unites 
In fix'd observance of these holy rites,-- 
At Mecca's shrine what votive crowds surround 
With annual pomp the consecrated ground,-- 
The muse shall tell:--revolving years succeed, 
And Time still venerates Mohammed's creed. 

Nor faint the glory shed o'er Mecca's brow: 
Land of the Prophet! known to fame art thou. 
Here first in peace his infant hopes were known, 
Here fix'd the Chief his Temple and his Throne: 
Though from thy gates opposing factions here 
With stern defiance drove the gifted Seer; 
Yet, sacred City of his love! 'twas thine 
To heap the earliest incense on his shrine; 
To own the terrors of his conq'ring blade, 
And hail with joy the Exile thou hadst made. 
Yes--thou art known to fame! to thee, 'tis said, 
A voice divine the wand'ring Abram led: 
Within thy courts, at his command restor'd, 
Blaz'd the pure altars of Creation's Lord. 
And hence thy race, for ancient faith renown'd, 
Surpassing favour with Mohammed found; 
His seat of Empire hence thy walls became, 
And shar'd, for sanctity, Mohammed's fame, 
Nor strange that hence, with pious gifts array'd, 
Thy shrine rever'd the Moslem tribes invade; 
Such duteous zeal the Prophet's laws demand, 
And fabled raptures of his promis'd land. 
For woe to him, who ne'er with awe profound, 
At Mecca's shrine, hath kiss'd the holy ground: 
For him, denied celestial joys to share, 
No blooming Houris shall his couch prepare; 
But his the doom, where countless horrors reign, 
To feel a dark eternity of pain; 
Of deep remorse the bitter tear to shed, 
Each hope of Paradise for ever fled. 

Behold! one impulse every heart enthralls; 
Wide spreads the fervour 'mid Byzantium's walls:-- 
Where, proudly soaring, frown from Europe's coast 
Her regal tow'rs o'er Asia's subject host, 
With mingling crowds behold the darken'd lands, 
And the wild tumult of assembling bands; 
So vast the force, 'twould seem, with ire renew'd, 
His warrior train Byzantium's Lord review'd; 
From Catharine's sway his captur'd forts to claim, 
And dare to vindicate his tarnish'd fame. 
Nor less the force, on sandy plains array'd, 
Where Memphis once her native kings obey'd; 
Where still, in mournful grandeur o'er the waste, 
Gigantic Ruin tells of glory past, 
And, 'mid the relics of her brighter day, 
The haughty Satrap holds despotic sway. 
How dense the mass!--from Afric's sultry shore, 
Their zealot tribes unpeopled Cities pour; 
From Nile's green banks, where fruitful harvests teem, 
From Barca's land, unblest by culture's beam, 
From barren fields that nature's smiles forsake, 
Where Mareotis spreads its stagnant lake, 
From plains that once Cyrene's splendour crown'd, 
From Acre's walls in glory's page renown'd,-- 
They come,--Mohammed's flock;--from shores survey'd 
By Albion's flag on Calpe's rock display'd, 
From Tunis, rais'd on Byrsa's wreck, they come, 
And leave in Tripoli their native home. 

Slow moves the phalanx deeply-wedg'd; and loud 
Exulting sounds proclaim the pious crowd. 
And now Arsinoe's stately tow'rs are seen, 
Belov'd resort of Egypt's peerless Queen; 
Now lofty Moriah's sacred hill they tread; 
Now pause awhile by Sinai's mountain led: 
Here, as with Israel's woes he sank deprest, 
Here Amram's Son th'Almighty presence blest; 
Here, while to Jethro's herds his care was giv'n, 
Th'afflicted Pastor knew the voice of heav'n; 
Saw, as the holy ground with awe he trod, 
Reveal'd in flame the glory of his God; 
Yet, while the radiance Horeb's brow illum'd, 
No eye beheld the burning bush consum'd. 

Onward the phalanx moves;--yet fear demands 
Augmented force 'mid Egypt's trackless sands; 
Forbids a scatter'd and defenceless train 
Too boldly haste the holy Land to gain, 
'Till, to their view in martial pride display'd, 
The Sultan's troops confirm securer aid. 
They come;--their course along the hills they hold;-- 
Their glitt'ring arms succeeding files unfold, 
And join th'expectant throng;--from all her shores 
Her warrior sons collected Asia pours. 
Known by his turban green of high command, 
The haughty Chief arrays the straggling band: 
Proud of his pure descent and ancient line, 
Proud of the gifts he bears to Mecca's shrine, 
For all their wants his watchful care provides, 
His pow'r protects them, and his counsel guides. 
Lo! where the chosen guards, in awe profound, 
With closing ranks their Sultan's gifts surround, 
Where tapestried wonders, to the sight unroll'd, 
Mix their rich splendour with the beaming gold, 
To music's sounds where denser squadrons move, 
And tow'ring lances form