Sunday, 22 November 2009



 It seems no work of Man's creative hand,
By labour wrought as wavering fancy planned;
But from the rock as if by magic grown,
Eternal, silent, beautiful, alone!
Not virgin-white like that old Doric shrine,
Where erst Athena held her rites divine;
Not saintly-grey, like many a minster fane,
That crowns the hill and consecrates the plain;
But rose-red as if the blush of dawn,
That first beheld them were not yet withdrawn;
The hues of youth upon a brow of woe,
Which Man deemed old two thousand years ago.
Match me such marvel save in Eastern clime,
A rose-red city half as old as time.

John William Burgon (1845)

 This poem inspired a little girl with long dark ringlets living on a little farm in South Wales, seventy years ago. It fired her imagination and made her want to travel and although she travelled throughout the world she never managed to get to Petra, until last week. And that is how I went there as well. The little girl was my Mum and at the age of seventy nine she finally achieved her dream with me and Cees in tow. We were not disappointed.

Jordan, the land of John the Baptist, the Crusades, the Greek, Roman and Ottoman Empires, Lawrence of Arabia, spice trade routes, rocks and deserts and magic; what a place. An earthquake many thousands of years ago tore the rocks apart to create a canyon (the Siq)  which you walk through to access the ancient city of Petra. The city, carved out of the multi-coloured rock face, reveals itself when you emerge at the end of the long walk through the canyon.

Match me such marvel save in Eastern clime,
A rose-red city half as old as time.

What more can I say?

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