By the yellow Nile a temple of black marble,
Swart colossal columns on the fulvous Nile!
In the precinct palm-trees grow, and wild birds warble;
'Neath the gate-way basks the crocodile;
In the vista stalks the ibis flaunting
Feathers black and white;
From the shrine come songs of wild priests haunting
All the night.
Mystery, Memphian gloom. The vast hawk-sphinxes slumber
Either side the portal, where, white-robed, the dark
Votaries, in procession, endless, without number,
Bear the sacred beetle in the ark,
To the waters of the sacred river,
Chanting in a row,
In the hoof-prints of the gold-horned heifer
As they go.
Aesthetes and Decadents of the 1890s: An Anthology of British Poetry and Prose. Ed. Karl Beckson. Chicago: Academy, 1981.
Last modified 1 November 2006