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Poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Still through Egypt's desert places Flows the lordly Nile, From its banks the great stone faces Gaze with patient smile. Still the pyramids imperious Pierce the cloudless skies, And the Sphinx stares with mysterious, Solemn, stony eyes. But where are the old Egyptian Demi-gods and kings? Nothing left but an inscription Graven on stones and rings. Where are Helios and Hephaestus, Gods of eldest eld? Where is Hermes Trismegistus, Who their secrets held? Where are now the many hundred Thousand books he wrote? By the Thaumaturgists plundered, Lost in lands remote; In oblivion sunk forever, As when o'er the land Blows a storm-wind, in the river Sinks the scattered sand. Something unsubstantial, ghostly, Seems this Theurgist, In deep meditation mostly Wrapped, as in a mist. Vague, phantasmal, and unreal To our thought he seems, Walking in a world ideal, In a land of dreams. Was he one, or many, merging Name and fame in one, Like a stream, to which, converging Many streamlets run? Till, with gathered power proceeding, Ampler sweep it takes, Downward the sweet waters leading From unnumbered lakes. By the Nile I see him wandering, Pausing now and then, On the mystic union pondering Between gods and men; Half believing, wholly feeling, With supreme delight, How the gods, themselves concealing, Lift men to their height. Or in Thebes, the hundred-gated, In the thoroughfare Breathing, as if consecrated, A diviner air; And amid discordant noises, In the jostling throng, Hearing far, celestial voices Of Olympian song. Who shall call his dreams fallacious? Who has searched or sought All the unexplored and spacious Universe of thought? Who, in his own skill confiding, Shall with rule and line Mark the border-land dividing Human and divine? Trismegistus! three times greatest! How thy name sublime Has descended to this latest Progeny of time! Happy they whose written pages Perish with their lives, If amid the crumbling ages Still their name survives! Thine, O priest of Egypt, lately Found I in the vast, Weed-encumbered sombre, stately, Grave-yard of the Past; And a presence moved before me On that gloomy shore, As a waft of wind, that o'er me Breathed, and was no more.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's other poems:
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