Nicholas Michell

A long, long desert tract before us lies,
Where nought appears but rocky plains and skies,
Save where some loose-robed Santon, bowed by age,
With staff and scrip, pursues his pilgrimage,
Hoping to kiss blessed Selman's sacred tomb,
Or breathe to Allah prayers in distant Koom.*
What mean yon mounds, like long-forsaken graves,
Where its coarse stems the desert wormwood waves?
Hid in tall grass the snake and lizard play,
And roused from sleep the jackall scours away.
Now all is hushed save yon deep river's flow,
Breathing like some lorn spirit's plaint of woe;
Ah! Nature seems to mourn, so still and sad,
But Death smiles here, and Ruin's heart is glad.

Author's Note: In Koom lie buried some of the descendants of Ali, and thither pilgrimages are made.

Main Location:

Qom, Iran