Beautiful from her beginnings, Gondar, hope of the wretched!
And hope of the great, Gondar, without measure or bounds!
O dove of Johannes, Gondar, generous hearted mother!
Gondar, never bowed by affliction!
Gondar, with her merry name!
Gondar, seat of prosperity and of savoury food!
Gondar, dwelling of King Iyasu and of mighty Bekafa!
Gondar, which emulated the city of David, the land of Salem!
She will be a myth unto eternity.
How is it that she has been destroyed like Sodom
and without any guilt?
~ Anonymous, trans. by Enrico Cerulli
Editor’s note: Gondar is a beautiful town north of Lake Tana, founded by King Fasilidas in 1635, full of crumbling 17th-century castles, For 250 years, it was the capital of the Ethiopian empire. This poem was translated by Enrico Cerulli, and is quoted in ‘Wax and Gold’, by Donald Levine(University of Chicago Press, 1965).