umayyad mosque

Damascus, from the West

Damascus measures time not by days and months and years,
but by the empires she has seen rise and prosper and crumble to ruin.
She is a type of immortality.

She saw the foundation of Baalbeck, and Thebes and Ephesus laid:
she saw these villages grow into mighty cities,
and amaze the world with their grandeur –
and she has lived to see them desolate, deserted ,
and given over to the owls and the bats.

She saw the Israelitish empire exalted,
and she saw it annihilated.
She saw Greece rise,
and flourish two thousand years,
and die.

In her old age she saw Rome built;
she saw it overshadow the world with its power;
she saw it perish.

The few hundred years of Genoese and Venetian might and splendor were,
to grave old Damascus,
only a trifling scintillation hardly worth remembering.

Damascus has seen all that has ever occurred on earth,
and still she lives.

She has looked upon the dry bones of a thousand empires,
and will see the tombs of a thousand more before she dies.

Though another claims the name,
old Damascus is by right,
the Eternal City.

- Mark Twain, Innocents Abroad

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