Messer Marco Polo
And so they set forth with their great train of red, snarling camels and little patient
donkeys and slender, nervous horses toward the rising sun. Behind them the
green hills of Palestine died out as a rainbow dies out, and now there was sand
before them and now bleak mountains, and by day the wind was swift and hot
and by night it was black and cold. And moons were born and died. . .
And they passed through the land of the King of Armenia, and they passed
Ararat, the mountain where Noah brought his ark to anchor, and where it still is,
and where it can be seen still, but cannot be reached, so cold and high and
terrible is that mountain.
And they passed ruined Babel, that was built of Nimrod, the first king of the
world, and now is desolation. They passed it on a waning moon. And out of the
ruins the dragons came and hissed at them, and strange, obscene birds flapped
their wings in the air and cawed and pecked at them, and over the desert the
satyr called unto her mate. . .
And they passed through the Kingdom of Georgia, whose kings are born with the
mark of an eagle on their right shoulder. They passed through Persia, where the
magicians worship fire. And they passed through the city of Saba, where sleep
the three magi who came to worship at Bethlehem, and their names were
Kaspar, Balthlasar, and Melchior.
And they passed through Camadi, where great ruins are and robbers roam
through the magical darkness. And they passed northward of the Perilous Valley,
where the Devil's Head is in black stone, and that is one of the nine entrances to
hell; and passed the Valley of the Cockadrills, where there are serpents five
fathoms in length; and passed the Valley of Cruel Women, who have precious
stones in place of eyes. . .
And they went through the Dismal Desert, where no stream sang. . .
And in the desert they passed the Trees of the Sun and Moon, which speak with
the voices of men. And it was from the Speaking Tree that Alexander heard of his
death. And it was near there that he and Darius fought. And they passed the
Arbre Sec, the Dry Tree, which has a green bark on one side and white on the
other, and there are no trees within a hundred miles of that tree, and it is sprung
from the staff of Adam.
And they passed through Balkh, the Mother of Cities. And they passed through
Tailian, where the great salt mountains are. And they passed through Badashan,
where the mountains of the rubies are. And they passed through Kashmir, whose