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

Egypt, Nubia, and Abyssinia: Tentyra (Denderah)


By Nicholas Michell (1807–1880)

(From Ruins of Many Lands)

WHAT yonder rises? ’T is Tentyra’s fane,

That stands, like some dark giant, on the plain.

Rival of Karnak, Edfou, stern and lone,

It looks to heaven, its founder, date unknown.

Its lofty portico and painted walls,

Its snake-wreathed globes and dim resounding halls,

Towers where ten thousand sculptured forms ye trace,

Awe with their vastness, charm us with their grace.

And this was Isis’ dwelling,—still she stands

Breathing from stone, with meekly lifted hands.

Dark mother! to whom zeal these walls upreared,

Whom monarchs reverenced, and whom myriads feared,

What wert thou, shrouded in thy silver veil,

That thus the ancient world should bend and quail?

Didst thou, as mortal beauty once adored,

Break by love’s charm the sceptre and the sword?

Wert thou a queen, and, when life’s dream was o’er,

A goddess hailed to rule forevermore?—

Vain, mystic being! will each effort be

To pierce the cloud that wraps thy age and thee,

Thy pompous rites as secret as thy birth,

Thy solemn worship passed away from earth.