Long before it was dubbed a wonder of the world, never in his life did John William Burgon (1813 – 1888) visit the rose-red city, but surely he had a clear vista (yes that’s the word) of Petra and all the magnificence it embraces.
Many people had described Petra to Burgon, but in his brilliant mind’s eye, he composed one of the most beautiful sonnets ever written by Man, a sonnet called Petra. Petra, the sonnet, gave back generously, immortalizing his name as a winner of the Newdigate Prize for the sonnet Petra:
It seems no work of Man’s creative hand,
by labor wrought as wavering fancy plnned;
But from the rock as 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that first beheld them were not yet withdrawn;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 yough 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.
Congratulations Petra, congratulations Jordan, but above all …
Congratulations to the whole World!