Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Africa: Vol. XXIV. 1876–79.

Introductory to Egypt, Nubia, and Abyssinia

Festal Dirge

By From the Egyptian

  • Translated by C. W. Goodwin
  • “At the entertainments of the rich, just as the company is about to rise from the repast, a small coffin is carried round, containing a perfect representation of a dead body; it is in size sometimes of one, but never more than two cubits, and as it is shown to the guests in rotation the hearer exclaims, “Cast your eyes on this figure; after death you yourself will resemble it; drink, then, and be happy.”—Herodotus, Euterpe, xxviii.

  • THE SONG of the house of King Antuf,

    Deceased, which is written in front of

    The player on the harp.

    All hail to the good Prince, the worthy good man,

    The body is fated to pass away,

    The atoms remain, ever since

    The time of the ancestors.

    The gods who were beforetime

    Rest in their tombs,

    The mummies of the saints

    Likewise are enwrapped in their tombs.

    They who build houses,

    And they who have no houses, see!

    What becomes of them.

    I have heard the words

    Of Imhotep and Hartatef.

    It is said in their sayings,

    “After all, what is prosperity?

    Their fenced walls are dilapidated.

    Their houses are as that which has never existed.

    No man comes from thence

    Who tells of their sayings,

    Who tells of their affairs,

    Who encourages our hearts.

    Ye go to the place whence they return not.

    Strengthen thy heart to forget

    How thou hast enjoyed thyself,

    Fulfil thy desire whilst thou livest.

    Put oils upon thy head,

    Clothe thyself with fine linen

    Adorned with precious metals,

    With the gifts of God

    Multiply thy good things,

    Yield to thy desire,

    Fulfil thy desire with thy good things,

    Whilst thou art upon earth,

    According to the dictation of thy heart.

    The day will come to thee,

    When one hears not the voice,

    When the one who is at rest

    Hears not their voices.

    Lamentations deliver not

    Him who is in the tomb.

    Feast in tranquillity,

    Seeing that there is no one

    Who carries away his goods with him.

    Yea, behold, none who goes thither

    Comes back again.