Author: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


On the house-top at Endor. Night. A lighted lantern on a table.

Swift are the blessed Immortals to the mortal
That perseveres! So doth it stand recorded
In the divine Chaldaean Oracles
Of Zoroaster, once Ezekiel’s slave,
Who in his native East betook himself
To lonely meditation, and the writing
On the dried skins of oxen the Twelve Books
Of the Avesta and the Oracles!
Therefore I persevere; and I have brought thee
From the great city of Tyre, where men deride
The things they comprehend not, to this plain
Of Esdraelon, in the Hebrew tongue
Called Armageddon, and this town of Endor,
Where men believe; where all the air is full
Of marvellous traditions, and the Enchantress
That summoned up the ghost of Samuel
Is still remembered. Thou hast seen the land;
Is it not fair to look on?

It is fair,
Yet not so fair as Tyre.

Is not Mount Tabor
As beautiful as Carmel by the Sea?

It is too silent and too solitary;
I miss the tumult of the street; the sounds
Of traffic, and the going to and fro
Of people in gay attire, with cloaks of purple,
And gold and silver jewelry!

Of Abriman, the spirit of the dark,
The Evil Spirit!

I regret the gossip
Of friends and neighbors at the open door
On summer nights.

An idle waste of time.

The singing and the dancing, the delight
Of music and of motion. Woe is me,
To give up all these pleasures, and to lead
The life we lead!

Thou canst not raise thyself
Up to the level of my higher thought,
And though possessing thee, I still remain
Apart from thee, and with thee, am alone
In my high dreams.

Happier was I in Tyre.
Oh, I remember how the gallant ships
Came sailing in, with ivory, gold, and silver,
And apes and peacocks; and the singing sailors,
And the gay captains with their silken dresses,
Smelling of aloes, myrrh, and cinnamon!

But the dishonor, Helen! Let the ships
Of Tarshish howl for that!

And what dishonor?
Remember Rahab, and how she became
The ancestress of the great Psalmist David;
And wherefore should not I, Helen of Tyre,
Attain like honor?

Thou art Helen of Tyre,
And hast been Helen of Troy, and hast been Rahab,
The Queen of Sheha, and Semiramis,
And Sara of seven husbands, and Jezebel,
And other women of the like allurements;
And now thou art Minerva, the first Aeon,
The Mother of Angels!

And the concubine
Of Simon the Magician! Is it honor
For one who has been all these noble dames,
To tramp about the dirty villages
And cities of Samaria with a juggler?
A charmer of serpents?

He who knows himself
Knows all things in himself. I have charmed thee,
Thou beautiful asp: yet am I no magician,
I am the Power of God, and the Beauty of God!
I am the Paraclete, the Comforter!

Illusions! Thou deceiver, self-deceived!
Thou dost usurp the titles of another;
Thou art not what thou sayest.

Am I not?
Then feel my power.

Would I had ne’er left Tyre!

He looks at her, and she sinks into a deep sleep.

Go, see it in thy dreams, fair unbeliever!
And leave me unto mine, if they be dreams,
That take such shapes before me, that I see them;
These effable and ineffable impressions
Of the mysterious world, that come to me
From the elements of Fire and Earth and Water,
And the all-nourishing Ether! It is written,
Look not on Nature, for her name is fatal!
Yet there are Principles, that make apparent
The images of unapparent things,
And the impression of vague characters
And visions most divine appear in ether.
So speak the Oracles; then wherefore fatal?
I take this orange-bough, with its five leaves,
Each equidistant on the upright stem;
And I project them on a plane below,
In the circumference of a circle drawn
About a centre where the stem is planted,
And each still equidistant from the other,
As if a thread of gossamer were drawn
Down from each leaf, and fastened with a pin.
Now if from these five points a line be traced
To each alternate point, we shall obtain
The Pentagram, or Solomon’s Pentangle,
A charm against all witchcraft, and a sign,
Which on the banner of Antiochus
Drove back the fierce barbarians of the North,
Demons esteemed, and gave the Syrian King
The sacred name of Soter, or of Savior.
Thus Nature works mysteriously with man;
And from the Eternal One, as from a centre,
All things proceed, in fire, air, earth, and water,
And all are subject to one law, which, broken
Even in a single point, is broken in all;
Demons rush in, and chaos comes again.
By this will I compel the stubborn spirits,
That guard the treasures, hid in caverns deep
On Gerizim, by Uzzi the High-Priest,
The ark and holy vessels, to reveal
Their secret unto me, and to restore
These precious things to the Samaritans.
A mist is rising from the plain below me,
And as I look, the vapors shape themselves
Into strange figures, as if unawares
My lips had breathed the Tetragrammaton,
And from their graves, o’er all the battlefields
Of Armageddon, the long-buried captains
Had started, with their thousands, and ten thousands,
And rushed together to renew their wars,
Powerless, and weaponless, and without a sound!
Wake, Helen, from thy sleep! The air grows cold;
Let us go down.

HELEN, awaking.
Oh, would I were at home!

Thou sayest that I usurp another’s titles.
In youth I saw the Wise Men of the East,
Magalath and Pangalath and Saracen,
Who followed the bright star, but home returned
For fear of Herod by another way.
O shining worlds above me! in what deep
Recesses of your realms of mystery
Lies hidden now that star? and where are they
That brought the gifts of frankincense and myrrh?

The Nazarene still liveth.

We have heard
His name in many towns, but have not seen Him.
He flits before us; tarries not; is gone
When we approach, like something unsubstantial,
Made of the air, and fading into air.
He is at Nazareth, He is at Nain,
Or at the Lovely Village on the Lake,
Or sailing on its waters.

So say those
Who do not wish to find Him.

Can this be
The King of Israel, whom the Wise Men worshipped?
Or does He fear to meet me? It would seem so.
We should soon learn which of us twain usurps
The titles of the other, as thou sayest.

They go down.


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Chicago: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, "XI Simon Magus and Helen of Tyre," Fragments, ed. Callaway, Morgan, Jr., 1962- in The Complete Poetical Works of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (New York: George E. Wood, 1850), Original Sources, accessed September 25, 2022,

MLA: Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth. "XI Simon Magus and Helen of Tyre." Fragments, edited by Callaway, Morgan, Jr., 1962-, in The Complete Poetical Works of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, New York, George E. Wood, 1850, Original Sources. 25 Sep. 2022.

Harvard: Longfellow, HW, 'XI Simon Magus and Helen of Tyre' in Fragments, ed. . cited in 1850, The Complete Poetical Works of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, George E. Wood, New York. Original Sources, retrieved 25 September 2022, from