Classic and Contemporary Poetry
FAREWELL, O EGYPT!, by CHARLES V. H. ROBERTS
First Line: The pink-pearl blush of dawn crept o'er our / barge
Last Line: Yet diviner thouthrough every century.
Subject(s): Egypt; Farewell; History; Parting; Historians
The pink-pearl blush of dawn crept o'er our barge
And Alexandria. From silver-fretted
Night 'mid shifting glooms, the quivering palms
Twisted in spirals on the desert's edge;
The moon had paled and drowsed to saffron dust;
The stars now closed their diamond eyes and wept,
Then fled to shelter as Day touched the sky.
O Egypt, sullen gray, supreme in Time!
From off this prow thine echoes burst in flame,
Lit by the torch of History, each in turn
Full in the arena of this blood-stained world.
Still from shadoof and sakieh rimmed in gold,
Sing this dawn to us thy memories
Of archetypal dreams and loveliness,
Of Ra, and Rameses and Basilisk;
Of Cleopatra and her drones a-bed
Beneath the ambient chambers of the moon;
Of Osiris, Isis, and of Antony,
Palm-embroidered from patrician Rome.
Farewell thy Pyramids, farewell thy Sphinx,
Crouching in dead desires and brooding silence;
Farewell terrific templesabysmal lament
From a by-gone worldmysterious tombs, despairs
Of all the perished races of the earth,
Cased in mummies or in water sunk.
Farewell thy lateen sails and tiny islands,
Kissed by the lips of Histories away.
Farewell brown children of the curvéd Nile,
Your hammocks, floats, your crocodile, your songs,
Your prattling truths and dreams in dynasty
Of Griffins twain and jewelled wine betwixt.
Farewell the patter of the donkey's feet,
A-near the dragomen and drab bazaar.
Farewell snake charmers and thy courtesans,
With crystal breasts and eyelids powdered blue
'Mid writhes and twists of teeming populace.
Farewell thine Obelisksthy sands of Ghizeh,
Thy hieroglyphics and thy prophecies,
Thy minarets and mosques in sunset prayer:
Farewell immortal, sad, O sacred Egypt,
Phantasmagoria of a world that's dead,
Yet diviner thouthrough every century.
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