Vale of Kidron

Nicholas Michell

We enter Kedron's vale, — the stony height
Once crowned with olive-forests, bounds our right:
Age after age men yielded up their breath,
Till millions slumbered in this glen of death;
And here, with those he loves, in peace to lie,
Is still the hapless Hebrew's latest sigh.
Ah! where so sadly sweet may scene be found?
Though flowers no longer deck the shrunken mound,
And plane and yew have ceased their shade to cast,
They, voiceless mourners, dead themselves at last,
Here, deep below sad Salem's eastern walls, *
The garish sunbeam mildly-tempered falls;
Perched on the tombs soft plains the hermit bird,
And scarce the Pagan's Allah-cry is heard:
Through all the Kedron pours its placid rill,
Sweet Nature's child 'mid death surviving still,
Its low-breathed voice like whispers from the graves,
As their stone fronts its limpid wavelet laves.
The rocks of Olivet are piled above,
Whose shade steals down, as if in hallowing love.
In such a spot the soul, till judgment-day,
Might wish to leave her frail and cumbering clay,
Revisiting, at moonlight's holy hour,
That vale of peace, where Death has built his bower.

. . .

'Tis in this vale of tombs, the Hebrews say,
The world's great Lord will hold the judgment-day;
Kedron's wild rocks will hear the trumpet sound,
And every ancient mountain answer round;
Then will those caves give forth their treasured dead,
Around, like leaves, earth's gathered myriads spread;
Justice, to whom Heaven's withering bolts belong,
Will speak in thunder to that trembling throng,
But Mercy, gentle as green Hermon's dew,
And soft as seraph-sighs, will whisper too.*

Author's Notes:

* The deep and narrow Valley of Kedron, or Jehoshapbat, commences near the Pool of Siloam, and runs northward between Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives, for nearly a mile. This valley from an early epoch has been the great Jewish cemetery. The rocks at the foot of Mount Olivet are full of excavations, very similar to the tombs at Petra; monumental stones also abound everywhere.

* The Jews, through all ages, have been impressed with the idea that the valley of Jehoshaphat will be the scene of the final judgment of mankind: the Moslems believe the same, except that Mohammed is to be the judge; and these men have actually placed a large stone in the eastern wall of the city, on which the prophet is to sit; the broad slab is called " Mohammed's stone."