Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > Africa
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Africa: Vol. XXIV.  1876–79.
Egypt, Nubia, and Abyssinia: Nile, the River
The Nile
Lucretius (c 99–55 B.C.)
(From The Nature of Things, Book VI)
Translated by J. M. Good

THE NILE now calls us, pride of Egypt’s plains:
Sole stream on earth its boundaries that o’erflows
Punctual, and scatters plenty. When the year
Now glows with perfect summer, leaps its tide
Broad o’er the champaign, for the north-wind now,        5
The Etesian breeze, against its mouth direct
Blows with perpetual winnow; every surge
Hence loiters slow, the total current swells,
And wave o’er wave its loftiest bank surmounts.
For that the fixed monsoon that now prevails        10
Flows from the cold stars of the northern pole
None e’er can doubt; while rolls the Nile adverse
Full from the south, from realms of torrid heat,
Haunts of the Ethiop-tribes; yet far beyond
First bubbling, distant, o’er the burning line.        15
  Then ocean, haply, by the undevious breeze
Blown up its channel, heaves with every wave
Heaps of high sands, and dams its wonted course:
Whence narrower, too, its exit to the main,
And with less force the tardy stream descends.        20
  Or, towards its fountain, ampler rains, perchance,
Fall, as the Etesian fans, now wide unfurled,
Ply the big clouds perpetual from the north
Far o’er the red equator; where, condensed,
Ponderous, and low, against the hills they strike,        25
And shed their treasures o’er the rising flood.
Or, from the Ethiop-mountains, the bright sun
Now full matured, with deep dissolving ray
May melt the agglomerate snows, and down the plains
Drive them, augmenting, hence, the incipient stream.        30

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