Classic and Contemporary Poetry
DREAM O' NILE, by CHARLES V. H. ROBERTS
First Line: Egyptian baccharis! I dream a dream
Last Line: Souls rise and risehistory rests upon thy myrrh.
Subject(s): Egypt; Nile (River); Pyramids
Egyptian baccharis! I dream a dream
Through topaz glow, in the chalice of thy royal mysteries:
I lay o'er barge upon the Nile, and glean
The agony of thy fading centuries.
A fluttered flight with eyes wide o'er to see,
I dropped anon into entangling twilights,
Past nymphs in gossamer gowns out-floating free,
Where other forms and forces try to solve
The laughter in thy Labyrinthsthe silvered nights
Around thy granite temples,thence evolve
To gardens flecked with robes in Ptolemys' rites.
Adown these shimmering mystic paths I walked;
To painted kings and jewelled queens I talked,
In irised chambers of old revelry.
I sipped from cups moulded o'er the Chrysolite;
Played hide and seek with rapturous Aphrodite;
Pressed amorous lips and caressive breasts all ivory.
Nubians with flowers and with peacock fans,
Adrift is Cleopatra and her love-bought bliss:
The jealous moon winks back her tears and wanes:
The queen athirsts for power in the Roman's kiss.
Low a purple lilac o'er the Nile,
Strangely chill the sandy winds tonight;
Richest monuments and pylons there erewhile,
And cold red obelisks of dead divinities;
Satyrs a-creep from out the Sphinx's eyes, and sight
To me on senseless stones great Histories.
Afar to Lybian desert a lute string trilled,
Drowned by the wingéd sweep of Basilisk;
A-near a crocodile the air in terror filled;
Peered o'er the banks the monster Hippogriffs.
I saw the stars all trembling in the heaven,
Wan wreaths around the Monoliths atwist:
From amber foam of Nile I counted seven,
As birds flew out the temples' weary glyphs.
The Pyramids huge, fiercely black in hue,
Stood half way down in moonlit silver rayed,
Mighty diadems of Ancients' thew;
Within Sarcophagi e'er mummies' sprites a-preyed.
Hushed and silenced by the splendor of this view,
Struck fear dumb Imy Dream O' Nile dismayed.
O River, sleep swaying scents in thy wafted tresses,
Past vanishedall away thy dynasties "That Were,"
Same are thy ways and still thine old caresses:
Souls rise and riseHistory rests upon thy myrrh.
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