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

Egypt, Nubia, and Abyssinia: Ipsamboul (Abu-Simbel), Nubia


By Nicholas Michell (1807–1880)

(From Ruins of Many Lands)

IPSAMBOUL!—name that wakens wonder’s thrill,—

Why stand ye, spell-bound, near yon sculptured hill?

High o’er the flowing Nile the temples frown,

Their monster guardians gazing dimly down,

Those awful forms that seem with being rife,

Primeval giants starting into life!

Beside those limbs how pygmy-like are we!

’T is toil and pain to climb the statue’s knee:

See the broad breast like some vast buttress spread,

High as a war-tower springs the huge capped head.

What were they, mighty ones, dark Titan band,

Shaped to this awful guise by human hand?

The forms of heroes conquering once the world,

Or types of gods from heaven’s high regions hurled?

Yet in those lofty features naught appears

To shock the gazer’s heart, or wake his fears;

Calm and benign, they front the rising sun,

How oft the burning orb his course hath run,

Lighting to million graves the human race,

But, still returning, sees each solemn face!