Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > An American Anthology, 1787–1900
Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  An American Anthology, 1787–1900.  1900.
1178. The Egyptian Lotus
(In an Artificial Pond)
By Arthur Wentworth Hamilton Eaton
PROUD, languid lily of the sacred Nile,
’T is strange to see thee on our Western wave,
Far from those sandy shores, that mile on mile,
Papyrus-plumed, stretch silent as the grave.
O’er dark, mysterious pool and sheltered bay,        5
And round deep dreaming isles thy leaves expand,
Where Alexandrian barges plough their way,
Full-freighted, to the ancient Theban land.
On Karnak’s lofty columns thou wert seen,
And spacious Luxor’s temple-palace walls,        10
Each royal Pharaoh’s emeralded queen
Chose thee to deck her glittering banquet halls;
Yet thou art blossoming on this fairy lake
As regally, amidst these common things,
As on the shores where Nile’s soft ripples break,        15
As in the halls of old Egyptian kings.
Thy grace charms, day by day, men’s curious eyes,
But he whose outer senses thought has probed,
Looking at thee, sees stately temples rise
About him, and long lines of priests, white-robed,        20
That chant strange music as they slowly pace
Dim columned aisles; hears, trembling overhead,
Echoes that lose themselves in that vast space,
Of Egypt’s solemn ritual for the dead.
Ay, deeper thoughts than these, though undefined,        25
Wake in the quickened soul at sight of thee,
For this majestic orient faith enshrined
Man’s yearning hope of immortality.
And thou wert Egypt’s symbol of the power
That under all decaying form lies hid;        30
The old world worshipped thee, O Lotus flower,
Then carved its sphinx and reared its pyramid.


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