In 1851, after the death of his wife, Taylor traveled to the Middle East. He had his first experience with hashish in Egypt and a second, more powerful one, in Damascus, he described in The Land of the Saracens; or, Pictures of Palestine, Asia Minor, Sicily, and Spain.
Although, at that time, poets were experiencing drugs as a creative, mind-expanding experience, Bayard Taylor focuses on the historical use of hashish and on his own physical feeling: "The spirits of height, color, odor, sound, and motion were my slaves; and, having these, I was master of the universe (...) Though the whole vision was probably not more than five minutes long in passing through my mind, years seem to have elapsed (...) One set of nerves was thrilled with the bliss of the gods, while another was convulsed with unquenchable laughter at that very bliss."
Taylor gives advice to the readers willing to experience the drug: "If I have endeavored to forestall, let me beg all who are thereby led to repeat the experiment upon themselves, that they be content to take the portion of hasheesh which is considered sufficient for one man, and not, like me, swallow enough for six". For many American readers, this account was their first introduction to the drug.
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