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

Egypt, Nubia, and Abyssinia: Nile, the River

Hymn to the Nile

By From the Egyptian of Enna

  • Translated by F. C. Cook
  • This hymn is important as bearing witness to the state of religious thought in Egypt in the time of Merneptah, the son of Rameses II. XIXth dynasty, according to the generality of Egyptologers, contemporary with Moses.

  • HAIL to thee, O Nile!

    Thou shewest thyself in this land,

    Coming in peace, giving life to Egypt:

    O Ammon, thou leadest night unto day,

    A leading that rejoices the heart!

    Overflowing the gardens created by Ra.

    Giving life to all animals;

    Watering the land without ceasing:

    The way of heaven descending:

    Lover of food, bestower of corn,

    Giving light to every home, O Ptah!


    Bringer of food! Great Lord of provisions!

    Creator of all good things!

    Lord of terrors and of choicest joys!

    All are combined in him.

    He produceth grass for the oxen;

    Providing victims for every god.

    The choice incense is that which he supplies.

    Lord in both regions,

    He filleth the granaries, enricheth the storehouses,

    He careth for the state of the poor.

    He causeth growth to fulfil all desires,

    He never wearies of it.

    He maketh his might a buckler.

    He is not graven in marble,

    As an image bearing the double crown.

    He is not beheld:

    He hath neither ministrants nor offerings:

    He is not adored in sanctuaries:

    His abode is not known:

    No shrine is found with painted figures.


    The inundation comes, then cometh rejoicing;

    Every heart exulteth:

    The tooth of the crocodiles, the children of Neith

    Even the circle of the gods who are counted with thee.

    Doth not its outburst water the fields,

    Overcoming mortals with joy:

    Watering one to produce another.

    There is none who worketh with him;

    He produces food without the aid of Neith.

    Mortals he causes to rejoice.

    He giveth light on his coming from darkness:

    In the pastures of his cattle

    His might produceth all:

    What was not, his moisture bringeth to life.

    Men are clothed to fill his gardens:

    He careth for his laborers.

    He maketh even and noontide,

    He is the infinite Ptah and Kabes.

    He createth all works therein,

    All writings, all sacred words,

    All his implements in the North.


    O inundation of Nile, offerings are made to thee;

    Oxen are slain to thee;

    Great festivals are kept for thee;

    Fowls are sacrificed to thee;

    Beasts of the field are caught for thee;

    Pure flames are offered to thee;

    Offerings are made to every god,

    As they are made unto Nile.

    Incense ascends unto heaven,

    Oxen, bulls, fowls are burnt!

    Nile makes for himself chasms in the Thebaid;

    Unknown is his name in heaven,

    He doth not manifest his forms!

    Vain are all representations!

    Mortals extol him, and the cycle of gods!

    Awe is felt by the terrible ones;

    His son is made Lord of all,

    To enlighten all Egypt.

    Shine forth, shine forth, O Nile! shine forth!

    Giving life to men by his oxen:

    Giving life to his oxen by the pastures!

    Shine forth in glory, O Nile.