Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, TOWARDS DEMOCRACY: PART 3. INSCRIBED ON A MUMMY CASE, BRITISH MUSEUM, by EDWARD CARPENTER



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TOWARDS DEMOCRACY: PART 3. INSCRIBED ON A MUMMY CASE, BRITISH MUSEUM, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Artemidorus, farewell
Last Line: "remains but this—""farewell."
Subject(s): Coffins; Farewell; Goddesses & Gods; Mummies; Museums; Mythology; Travel; Parting; Art Gallerys; Journeys; Trips


ARTEMIDORUS, farewell.
No more no more thy dear lips shall I touch,
Nor kiss thy hands—those clinging hands in mine;
Thy gentle eyes—ah! shall we never gaze
Again upon each other?
Artemidorus, dearest, dearest one,
Leave me, O leave me not.

All the sweet hours that by the Nile we sat
In palm-tree shade, and watched the swallows dip;
Or when we first met at the sacred tank
Deep in the garden grounds of Arsaphes,
And told our secrets (heed'st thou?) to the fishes!
The lotus filling all the air with scent,
The pigeons wheeling, hundreds, overhead—
By our sweet love and laughter, then and since,
A thousand times, and all thy quips and pranks,
Leave me O leave me not.

Where shall I go? what do? why live? O why
Remain when thou art gone? There's nothing left

The nights so long, with pain pain at my heart;
The days, the staring Sun, and every sight
Shooting an arrow at me.
Could I but see thee once, or hope to see—
One hair of thy head, one finger of thy hand,
To hear one little word more from thy lips—
Twere more than all the world. But now the priests
Have got thee in their clutches; and already
They wrap the sacred linen o'er thy head,
Thy features and thy hair they cover up,
And round thy arms thy fingers and thy hands
They wind and wind and wind and wind the bands,
And I shall see thee nevermore, my own.
And then they'll paint
Thy likeness on the outer mummy case,
And stand it by the wall, as if to mock me,
Throwing my arms around a lifeless shell,
Breaking my heart against it.


And in a hundred years stray folk will come
And ask, "Who was Artemidorus pray?"
Nor listen for an answer—if in sooth
There's any that can give one. And in time
Strangers perhaps will overrun our land
And violate thy coffin, and unbind
With sacrilegious hands the rags, and find
Only a little dust—Ah! nothing else. ...
And I shall be a little dust too then ...
And whether lord Osiris, the good God,
Will hold our twin souls safely in his hand
Three thousand years through internatal forms
Of bird or beast or serpent, in reserve
For that new day they say has yet to dawn;
Or whether He too will chance fade to dust
Forgetting and forgotten of all men—
Behold I know not ... Only this I know
Of all the words we said in joke or earnest,
And vows we vowed, and solemn troth we plighted,
And all the multitudinous chatter and idle tales
And laughter that we got through, like two streams
That babble for mere gladness down the lands,
Artemidorus dear,
Dearest of all things either in earth or heaven,
For the long silence but one word remains,
Remains but this—"Farewell."





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