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

Introductory to Egypt, Nubia, and Abyssinia

The Sphinx and the Pyramids

By George Wilson

(From The Sleep of the Hyacinth)

THE SHADOW of the Pyramids

Fled round before the sun:

By day it fled,

It onward sped;

And when its daily task was done,

The moon arose, and round the plain

The weary shadow fled again.

The Sphinx looked east,

The Sphinx looked west,

And north and south her shadow fell;

How many times she sought for rest

And found it not, no tongue may tell.

But much it vexed the heart of greedy Time

That neither rain nor snow, nor frost nor hail,

Troubles the calm of the Egyptian clime;

For these for him, like heavy iron flail,

And wedge and saw, and biting tooth and file,

Against the palaces of kings prevail,

And crumble down the loftiest pile,

And eat the ancient hills away,

And make the very mountains know decay.

And sorely he would grudge, and much would carp,

That he could never keep his polished blade,

His mowing sickle keen and sharp,

For all the din and all the dust he made.

He cursed the mummies that they would not rot,

He cursed the paintings that they faded not,

And swore to terrible Memnon from his seat;

But, foiled awhile, to hide his great defeat,

With his wide wings he blew the Lybian sand,

And hid from mortal eyes the glories of the land.