Bekaa Valley

Nicholas Michell

The East just softens with uncertain beams,
Like Beauty slowly waking from her dreams;
The wind, faint creeping, stirs the whispering palm,
And cools the brow, and soothes each sense with balm.
Bocat's sequestered vale we wind along,
Glorious with countless flowers, and famed in song,
The Arab's haunt when Winter spreads its gloom,
Home of the Peri living on perfume.*
Clear as the conscience of a saintly bride,
Soft flows Litani's heaven -reflecting tide:*
The lily stoops her graces to behold,
The melon shows through moss his globe of gold:
Shook by the breeze, its flowers of odorous snow
The jasmine sheds upon that wave below,
Which bears them off, and drinks their luscious dew,
Thus by the theft adorned, and sweetened too.
And now that flower which courts the sun uprears
Her yellow crest, and gleams through night's soft tears;
See! how, fond worshipper! with diamond eye
She looks from earth, and finds the Eastern sky,
Breathing to Heav'n prayer-incense from the sod —
Ah! would that man did so adore his God!*

The Bekaa Valley was famed for its beauty and flowers. In more recent years it has been known for narcotics production and incessant warfare between Christian, Muslim and Druze factions, as well as with the Israelis.

Author's Notes:

The beautiful Valley of Bocat, sometimes called Beka, commences near the sea, not far from the site of ancient Tyre, and extends in a north-eastern direction for about thirty miles to Baalbec. The mountains of Libanus bound it on the one side, and those of Anti-Libanus on the other. "This valley," says Wood (in his "Journey to Palmyra"), "is more fertile than the celebrated vale of Damascus, and better watered than the rich plains of Esdraelou and Bama."

The river Litani runs through the Valley of Bocat, having taken its rise a little to the west of Baalbec in the chain of Anti- Libanus.

There is a small flower of a bright yellow colour, not much larger than our daisy, which always turns to the sun; the Arabs call it "Werd el Shems," or the flower of the sun.