William Morris Archive

The Mosque Rising in the Place of the Temple of Solomon (formerly known as "The Dedication of the Temple").

Remained unpublished in Morris's lifetime

Portions pub. AWS, I, 277-82; also published in William Whitla, "The Mosque Rising in the Place of the Temple of Solomon’: A Critical Text," The Journal of Pre-Raphaelite Studies, 9 (Spring 2000).

Draft in British Library Add. MS 45,298A, in what May Morris (AWS, I, 376) describes as copied "for or by" Emma Morris. She also states that only Emma knew of Morris's poem on the Oxford prize subject. According to a letter from Effie Morris, May Morris's niece, this poem, two accompanying fragments, and a copy of "The Willow and the Red Cliff" were written out by Aunt Henrie (Henrietta, Morris's other older sister), but May Morris seems to have doubted her niece's judgment. The one surviving Emma Morris letter justifies this doubt: its handwriting is a less readable version of that used for "The Mosque Rising." A partial copy of "Scenes from the Fall of Troy" also exists in Emma's script; see Scenes from the Fall of Troy.

[f. 6] Oman threshed wheat upon the threshing floor
When all about a strange light shone that made
His face look wild; he hid himself, with him
His four sons hid themselves: and then alone
The glory shone, making all common things
Look fearful in its light: behind the straw
They crouched, but soon they looked out timidly.
The fearful thing looked from the rocky ledge
Towards the City: in its hand a sword

Waved as its fiery wings waved fearfully.
Often those men that hid behind the straw
Had heard of Angels singing before God
For ever and for ever: often heard
Of how the Captain of the Lord's own host
Stood before Joshua long ago: of how
Aaron rushed in between the quick & dead
His censer clanging in the tainted air.
They knew the Angel, and about them crept
A horror like to his who stands alone
Upon a moor, when black clouds creep along
Against the east wind blowing sullenly,
Bringing the thunder towards the sultry wind
Which has prayed for it blowing many days
Towards the house of thunder: So felt they
For ne'er before upon that threshing floor
Had such a wind blown the small straws about
As that, which blowing from the fiery wings,
Raised the curls up upon his snow-white brow
And let them fall again, as the lull came
Which the great wings swept back, or for awhile
Rested, an arch of light above his head
Of light that scorched not; so for long time stood
The awful angel on that threshing floor,
And Oman trembled, till he heard a step,
As if of one burdened with many woes,
Come slowly towards the straw he hid him in.
He heard a sigh drawn from the inmost heart
Of one so pressed upon by misery.
He could not tremble at the angel there
But only wept and wept; while evermore
His long robe dragged the stones along the ground.
He knew the King, King David whom he loved
And straightway fell before his feet, for love
Had all o'er mastered fear, and he forgot
The Angel, who still stood upon the floor;
His great wings sweeping grandly to and fro
[f. 7] And while he stood there calmly looking forth,
Without a doubt upon his loving soul,
An altar rose, and from it went the smoke,
About, about, in many curls and wreaths
Up to God's throne, who answered David there
As he lay praying, thinking of the flowers
That grow about the hills of Bethlehem.

Who knoweth how the dreadful angel went?
Or how he came upon the threshing floor?
But he was gone and from the city rose
Grand hymns in very solemn rolls of sound
That dwelt for long about the o'erhanging hills
Entangled in the Olives. Years passed by

The temple rose up from the rocky ledge.
No tool of iron smote upon the stone
The white chips flying from it: silently
The gold was clasped upon the cedar wood:
And silently the cherubim stretched out
Their heavy wings, on which the gold lay thick.
The brazen lilies round the sea of brass
Threw wondrous shadows when the moon was up
On the clear water under them, through up:
The brass showed yellow darker than the moon[.]

The narrow windows let the sun come in
And strike the gold, and redden where it struck
As though it drew out blood -- A solemn place
Even before the glory of the Lord
Had entered it: and when the moon alone
Shone there by night, the sun alone by day:
A solemn place -- but soon a day came on,
When all the people stood about the rock[.]
How many thousands! hushed in deep despair
With solemn heads bowed down unto the dust

While the king blessed them then he turned him round
And prayed many things upon his knees,
And they prayed with him till the Altar blazed
With fierce white flame that licked the victim up[.]
The Lord had come down to his sanctuary.
An aweful place the temple was that night.
The moon was on it, there was something else
Shone in it and about it, not the moon
For when the sun rose from above the hills
And struck it from the east, he changèd not

The wondrous light that shone for ever there.
For ever? Ah! how many shameful sins
Were wrought upon the bosom of the Land:
[f. 8] For ever! Ah how many were the hills
On which the west wind blew the palms about
With all their branches blackened by the smoke
That foully rose from altars which the Lord
Held cursed always: So the temple fell,
How terribly the gorgeous temple fell
The brass all vanished from the polished rose[,]

The gold all vanished from Araunah's floor
The wild winds threshed the charrèd cedar beams
As erst the tread of oxen threshed the grain.
Where once the incense stirred the purple veil
With its low breathing, now the wind bent down
The green grass waving o'er the Holy place.
How strangely shines the moon in Bethlehem,
How strangely fall the shadows on the hills;
While sit the warriors keeping watch by night,
Not like the quiet watch the shepherds kept,

When shone the moon upon the word made Man
When shone the moon upon the manger wall,
Making a shadow larger than the life
Upon the white wall, of a babe and maid,
A babe and Mother; aye the moon shone bright
Upon a hill where three black crosses stood,
Black, and black shadowed; where the white sky lay,
Broken and ghastly on the withered grass.
Then in a garden fair the moon shone once,
The light fell full upon a sepulchre,

Hewn in the rock, with armèd men around;
There where the light was grey about the tree,
And the moon sunk, the sun not risen yet,
Then women came to view the sepulchre
With eyes that weeping had made red, with hands
That twitched at their garments evermore,
Twisting them unto knots; with faint slow steps
Bringing to Him Who lay no longer there
Sweet spices: many a summer flower sprung up;
Famished and withered in that garden sweet;

Beneath the sun and wind, beneath the cold.
But now the garden and the trees are gone;
From far off lands both men and women come,
Strong men and weak, and women very weak
[f. 9] That they may lie upon that blessèd stone
Where lay the piercèd body of the Lord,
That they may die upon it, kissing it;
That they may kiss their sins away on it,
Such reverence pay they e'en to dead cold stone,
That could not feel God's body as It lay

Wrapt in the linen, hidden in the rock.
And Oman's threshing floor! Years years ago,
A marble temple stood, where stood of old
That other temple with the gilded beams
Of cedar and of olive -- years ago
The marble burnèd slowly into dust
While shouts and shrieks rang round it: filthy things
Are filled now upon the level rock,
Instead of marble pilèd into walls
With splendour on them from the morning dew

With splendour on them from the summer winds,
That sweetly slid along the marble smooth.
And now the warriors are upon the hill.
Some sleep and dream, not of the clashing swords
Dreaming of faces very far away
Some sit and twist the grass about their hands
Dreaming awake: some talk about the fight,
And some there are, who pacing up and down
Are weary, weary, with the watch they keep.
About them stand all glittering in the moon

Tall things bright-headed, blades, but not of grass[,]
Bright-headed, but they will be dulled soon
When blood dries brown on them, these are the men
Who have swept over many lands with these
Tall spears bright-headed that I tell about.
What people stood before them? on they come.
How may the dwellers in Jerusalem
Keep close their gates against them? very soon
The gates are opened, and the lances gleam
From street to street in dots of trembling light

From which the women shrink back shuddering[.]
The warriors who lay dreaming on the hills
Lie dreaming now within their quiet graves
Or seem to dream, for there the white bones lie
With nothing moving them: Oman is dead
And in its sheath his great sword perishes
As the rust eats it: On Araunah[']s floor
Another temple lifts its splendour up,
So gorgeous, that perchance some simple ones
Think it the same that Solomon did build

Without the sound of hammers: it is sweet
To see the many marble pillars stand,
To see within, the many arches cross:
[f. 10] To see the arches other arches make
In dark and light upon the marble floor.
In sooth it is a very beauteous place.
And I perchance could rest within its walls
Could rest within its smooth and barred walls
But round me ever a confused noise,
Swells up and falls and clearer swells again.

Well know I what it means that aweful sound.
O North! O north! about thy quiet hills
How fair thy flowers are in summer time.
O north! O north how oft the west-wind brings
The purple haze to lie upon the elms,
And make them purple too, in autumn eves
When twilight shades the streets and underneath
The thick trees, darkness makes. O north! O north! [MS, O! north O! north]
Under thy hills now fairly dance the waves
Showing the slate stones lying in the lake,

And throwing shadows on them from the sun.
O! south sky without a cooling cloud,
O! sickening yellow sand without a break,
O! palm with dust a-lying on thy leaves,
O! scarlet flowers burning with the sun.
I cannot love thee South for all thy sun,
For all thy scarlet flowers or thy palms[,]
But in the North for ever dwells my heart.
The North with all its human sympathies,
The glorious North, where all amidst the sleet

Warm hearts do dwell, warm hearts sing out with joy.
The North that ever loves the poet well,
The north where in the spring the primrose lies
So thick amongst the moss and hazel roots,
The North, where all the purple clouds do course
From out the north-west making green the trees[,]
Shout for the North, O! brothers shout with me
Pray for the North. O brothers pray with me.

A piteous tale that holy hermit told
In all the listening ears of Christendom,

A piteous tale to all the swelling hearts:
He told of pilgrims dying at the gate,
The wardens mocking at their agony[.]
He told of bishops with their hoary beards
A-lying in the grasp of Saracens[,]
Of Christ's name cursèd in the very place
Where he had blessed so many solemnly[.]
[f. 11] To those new warriors that are on the hills,
The hills that hang about Jerusalem,
Come from the North that they might free the tomb

Of Him who bought them they have come from far[,]
From towns where all over the houses rise
White spires in the light: from pleasant hills
Which look down on the river where the trees
Are dark above the stream and dark below:
Where all the bank and all the pollard trees
Lie in the water clearer than above
They come from woods where underneath the beech
The ground is hard, the air is almost green
From the green leaves above, while in the den

The notchèd fern is laughing merrily[.]
Ah me they come from many a lovely place[,]
And there their voices are weeping in the night
And there their children breathing heavily
Dreaming of horrors as the night goes on
With changes of the clouds -- they dream perhaps
Of all the horrors that lie round about
The line of march the Christian soldiers took.
Perchance they dream that there for many a mile
Great bones be whitening in the southern sun,

And over armour crawls the loathly asp[,]
His flat head clubbing at the close steel rings
Of broken swords, whose hilts are wrought about
With what the Saints have suffered for the Lord,
That they may die while on the army goes.
Of friends that stay behind, to die with them
And hold the cross against their parched lips.
It may be that their sire is such a one,
A-dying on the sand, but there all night
The soldiers watch about Jerusalem.

Shout! for the ladder catching on the wall,
Shout! for the mailcoat falling back again
From the knees slackening underneath its fold:
Shout! As the Christians press against the foe[.]
Shout! as the turbans wave despairingly:
Shout as the swords clash on the parapet
And fall in shivers underneath the wall,
Shout for the brave knight raising well his knee
Amid the glimmer of the scimitars:
Shout as the sword rises above his head

And falls again amidst the turbaned ones.
[f. 12] Hurrah! for sloping down the narrow streets
Hurrah! for rushing unto Omar's mosque
Where all the marble pillars stand aghast
As if they feared the shadows of the men
Shall cross the shadows of the arches there.
Ah me! they slew the woman [and] the babe[,]
They slew the old man with his hoary hair[,]
The youth who asked not mercy, and the child
Who prayed sore that he might see the sun

Some few days more -- those soldiers of the Cross[.]
Pray Christians for the sins of Christian men[.]
Then for long years the mosque of Omar felt
The long hymns which beat against the domed roof[,]
The hymns which Solomon had sung of old[,]
His full heart swelling, in the golden wall,
His gift, from which the Cherubim looked down[,]
It saw the image of the Crucified
Over the Altar, and it saw the priest
Stand with his chasuble in heavy folds[,]

The jewels on it hiding from the sun.
About the arches rolled the incense-cloud
As once it rolled about the cedar roof --
Now all is changed -- When will the cross once more
Be lifted high above its central Home?
Never perhaps. Yet many wondrous things
That silent dome has looked on quietly.
And truly very many wondrous things
The rock on which the temple stood has seen.
I wonder what Araunah's floor was like

Before the flood came down upon the Earth --

Notes by Peter Wright:

Lines c. 155-75 probably refer to the surrender, without fighting, of Jerusalem in 638 A. D. by the patriarch Sophronius to the Arab forces under the Caliph Omar. Whitla notices this in his summary (34) but for some reason not in his notes.

A correction: Jerasalem had been captured by the Persians in 614 A. D. and was recovered for the East Roman Empire by the Emperor Heraclius, after he defeated them in 629. It was from the Byzantines, not the Persians, that Omar received its surrender.

possible emendations: l. 201, Southern sky (to restore the iambic metre (WM perhaps shortened the end of the word); l. 282 felt for fell, which makes btter sense, and omit "The" at the start of the next line, to restore the metre

For PDF, see Mosque Rising in the Place of the Temple Solomon