Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, TO THE NILE, by BAYARD TAYLOR

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

TO THE NILE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Mysterious flood, that through the silent sands
Last Line: To float upon thy stream!
Alternate Author Name(s): Taylor, James Bayard
Subject(s): Nile (river)

MYSTERIOUS Flood, -- that through the silent sands
Hast wandered, century on century,
Watering the length of great Egyptian lands,
Which were not, but for thee, --

Art thou the keeper of that eldest lore,
Written ere yet thy hieroglyphs began,
When dawned upon thy fresh, untrampled shore
The earliest life of Man?

Thou guardest temple and vast pyramid,
Where the gray Past records its ancient speech;
But in thine unrevealing breast lies hid
What they refuse to teach.

All other streams with human joys and fears
Run blended, o'er the plains of History:
Thou tak'st no note of Man; a thousand years
Are as a day to thee.

What were to thee the Osirian festivals?
Or Memnon's music on the Theban plain?
The carnage, when Cambyses made thy halls
Ruddy with royal slain?

Even then thou wast a God, and shrines were built
For worship of thine own majestic flood;
For thee the incense burned, -- for thee was spilt
The sacrificial blood.

And past the bannered pylons that arose
Above thy palms, the pageantry and state,
Thy current flowed, calmly as now it flows,
Unchangeable as Fate.

Thou givest blessing as a God might give,
Whose being is his bounty: from the slime
Shaken from off thy skirts the nations live,
Through all the years of Time

In thy solemnity, thine awful calm,
Thy grand indifference of Destiny,
My soul forgets its pain, and drinks the balm
Which thou dost proffer me.

Thy godship is unquestioned still: I bring
No doubtful worship to thy shrine supreme;
But thus my homage as a chaplet fling,
To float upon thy stream!

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