Sea of Galillee

Nicholas Michell

Slow moves our skiff o'er still Tabaria's tide,
Through whose clear azure fish are seen to glide;
Abrupt and steep the girdling mountains frown,
Gigantic shadows stealing darkly down.
No murmuring crowds move busy on the shore,
No shepherd sings, or fisher plies his oar;
No voice in heaven, no whisper from the cave,
Man seems unborn, and Nature here a grave.*
A quiet sadness fills the musing mind,
We fain would speak, but language may not find.
Yet, not like Sodom's waters, here we trace
A holy beauty, and a solemn grace;
Though man may now desert yon silent strand,
Fancy will call up forms on wave and land;
A thousand memories treasured still shall be,
And linked throughout all time, fair lake, with thee.
Here lowly Peter's youthful days were past,
In yon green cove, perchance, his net was cast;
Here, mingling blood with pure and sparkling foam,
In her last throes Judea fought with Rome.

The Sea of Galillee is now in Israel. It is called Lake Kinnaret by the Israeiis, Lake Tabaria by the Arabs. The hills that frown down upon it from the East are the Golan Heights.

Author's Notes:

The sea of Galilee, or lake of Gennesareth, is now called Tabaria. This sheet of water is about fourteen miles long, and from six to nine miles wide, being very limpid and sweet. Mountains surround the lake on all sides, except at the ingress and egress of the Jordan, but they are without wood, and have a barren, gloomy aspect. The waters are usually very calm; a living object, except birds, is seldom seen on the margin of the lake, and a boat as rarely crosses it. The natural scenery may be the same as when Josephus described it 1800 years ago, but busy life has given place to solitude.

During the last war between the Jews and the Romans, each party had ships on the sea of Galilee, and frequent battles took place.