Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > Africa
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Africa: Vol. XXIV.  1876–79.
 
Introductory to Egypt, Nubia, and Abyssinia
Egypt
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882)
 
(From Kéramos)

AND now the winds that southward blow,
And cool the hot Sicilian isle,
Bear me away. I see below
The long line of the Lybian Nile,
Flooding and feeding the parched lands        5
With annual ebb and overflow:
A fallen palm whose branches lie
Beneath the Abyssinian sky,
Whose roots are in Egyptian sands.
On either bank huge water-wheels,        10
Belted with jars and dripping weeds,
Send forth their melancholy moans,
As if, in their gray mantles hid,
Dead anchorites of the Thebaid
Knelt on the shore and told their beads,        15
Beating their breasts with loud appeals
And penitential tears and groans.
 
This city, walled and thickly set
With glittering mosque and minaret,
Is Cairo, in whose gay bazaars        20
The dreaming traveller first inhales
The perfume of Arabian gales,
And sees the fabulous earthen jars,
Huge as were those wherein the maid
Morgiana found the Forty Thieves        25
Concealed in midnight ambuscade;
And seeing more than half believes
The fascinating tales that run
Through all the Thousand Nights and One,
Told by the fair Scheherezade.        30
 
More strange and wonderful than these
Are the Egyptian deities—
Ammon, and Emoth, and the grand
Osiris, holding in his hand
The lotus; Isis, crowned and veiled;        35
The sacred Ibis, and the Sphinx;
Bracelets with blue-enamelled links;
The Scarabee in emerald mailed,
Or spreading wide his funeral wings;
Lamps that perchance their night-watch kept        40
O’er Cleopatra while she slept,—
All plundered from the tombs of kings.
 
 
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