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

Egypt, Nubia, and Abyssinia: Memphis


By Nicholas Michell (1807–1880)

(From Ruins of Many Lands)

BUT now famed Memphis’ ancient bounds are gained,

Where the long line of iron Pharaohs reigned.

Hallowed by sacred lore, these scenes impart

A speechless awe, yet interest to the heart.

Here exiled Joseph rose to wealth and fame,

And, bent with years, the trembling Israel came.

Yonder in Goshen toiled, with many a sigh,

His countless sons, and mourned for days gone by;

And far away, where sweeps the Red Sea shore,

Lies the long track their myriads hurried o’er,

When blazed the fiery cloud o’er mount and plain,

And midnight winds rolled back the subject main,

While Moses led them on with wand of might,

Saw Pharaoh’s host, nor trembled at the sight.

But Memphis’ kings are less than ashes now,

The crowns e’en dust, that decked each royal brow.

Goshen, where Israel toiled, no trace retains

Of all the towers they built, when scourged in chains.

Memphis herself, as cursed for injuries piled

On Judah’s head, long, long hath strewn the wild.

Where is the shrine to soft-eyed Apis reared,

That sacred bull, kings, blood-stained chiefs revered?

Where Vulcan’s fane? and, gorgeous as a dream,

The gold-roofed palace raised by Nilus’ stream?

No vestige meets the pilgrim’s curious gaze;

O’er Memphis’ site the turbaned robber strays;

Each wall is razed, each pillared shrine o’erthrown;

The sands drift on, the desert breezes moan;

Shades of the Pharaohs! rise from marble sleep!

And o’er your lost loved city bend and weep!