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

Introductory to Egypt, Nubia, and Abyssinia

The Colossi

By Florence Smith (1845–1871)

GRIM monarchs of the silent plain,

Seated in motionless, sublime repose,

With faces turned forever toward the dawn,

With eyes that sleep not, lips that ne’er unclose,—

While kingdoms crumble round their thrones,

In lonely state they keep their ancient seat;

Time’s ocean ebbs and flows, with drifting sands,

Like the mysterious river at their feet.

The blithe birds sing their morning song

Where Memnon’s voice once rose to greet the sun;

The shadows lengthen nightly toward the west,

The stars shine down, the days pass one by one.

Still side by side they sit, with hands

Laid idly on their mighty knees of stone,—

What thoughts pass through their dim brains, silent thus,

Companions, yet through centuries alone?

Mourn they their kingdom’s vanished might,

Their broken altars, heaped with dust of death?

Or search they the dread future with blank eyes,—

Kings, priests, and gods of a forgotten faith?

Rock-hewn, they last while time shall last,

The hills shall leave their seats as soon as they;

But there is One who brooks no rival thrones,

And breaks all sceptres at the last great Day.

Mid ruins of a passing world,

To their slow height those giant forms shall rise;

With solemn steps they move to meet their doom,

From the dread presence passing with veiled eyes,

Beneath the gate of an eternal death

They enter, and are lost among the shades,—

In the dim region of perpetual sighs,

Where earthly glory, earthly greatness, fades.