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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 Witch of Atlas

By Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792–1822)


BUT her choice sport was, in the hours of sleep,

To glide adown old Nilus, when he threads

Egypt and Ethiopia, from the steep

Of utmost Axumé, until he spreads,

Like a calm flock of silver-fleecéd sheep,

His waters on the plain; and crested heads

Of cities and proud temples gleam amid,

And many a vapor-belted pyramid.

By Mæris and the Mareotid lakes,

Strewn with faint blooms like bridal-chamber floors;

Where naked boys bridling tame water-snakes,

Or charioteering ghastly alligators,

Had left on the sweet waters mighty wakes

Of those huge forms;—within the brazen doors

Of the great Labyrinth slept both boy and beast,

Tired with the pomp of their Osirian feast.

And where within the surface of the river

The shadows of the massy temples lie,

And never are erased, but tremble ever

Like things which every cloud can doom to die,

Through lotus-paven canals, and wheresoever

The works of man pierced that serenest sky

With tombs, and towers, and fanes, ’t was her delight

To wander in the shadow of the night.