Ancient Egypt eBook

George Rawlinson
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 341 pages of information about Ancient Egypt.

A small temple behind the great Sphinx, probably also built by Shafra, is formed of great blocks of the hardest red granite, brought from the neighbourhood of Syene and fitted to each other with a nicety astonishing to modern architects, who are unable to imagine what tools could have proved equal to the difficult achievement.  Mysterious passages pierce the great Sphinx and connect it with the Second Pyramid, three hundred feet west of it.  In the face of this mystery all questions are vain, and yet every visitor adds new queries to those that others have asked before him.

    Since what unnumbered year
      Hast thou kept watch and ward,
    And o’er the buried land of fear
      So grimly held thy guard? 
    No faithless slumber snatching,
      Still couched in silence brave,
    Like some fierce hound, long watching
      Above her master’s grave....

      Dost thou in anguish thus
      Still brood o’er OEdipus? 
    And weave enigmas to mislead anew,
      And stultify the blind
      Dull heads of human-kind,
        And inly make thy moan,
    That, mid the hated crew,
      Whom thou so long couldst vex,
      Bewilder and perplex,
    Thou yet couldst find a subtler than thine own?

      Even now; methinks that those
      Dark, heavy lips which close
      In such a stern repose,
    Seem burdened with some thought unsaid,
    And hoard within their portals dread
      Some fearful secret there,
    Which to the listening earth
    She may not whisper forth. 
      Not even to the air!

      Of awful wonders hid
      In yonder dread Pyramid,
        The home of magic fears;
      Of chambers vast and lonely,
      Watched by the Genii only,
    Who tend their masters’ long-forgotten biers,
      And treasures that have shone
      On cavern walls alone,
        For thousand, thousand years.

      Would she but tell.  She knows
      Of the old Pharaohs;
    Could count the Ptolemies’ long line;
    Each mighty myth’s original hath seen,
    Apis, Anubis,—­ghosts that haunt between
      The bestial and divine,—­
    (Such he that sleeps in Philae,—­he that stands
      In gloom unworshipped, ’neath his rock-hewn lane,—­
    And they who, sitting on Memnonian sands,
      Cast their long shadows o’er the desert plain:)
        Hath marked Nitocris pass,
        And Oxymandyas
    Deep-versed in many a dark Egyptian wile,—­
      The Hebrew boy hath eyed
      Cold to the master’s bride;
    And that Medusan stare hath frozen the smile
    Of all her love and guile,
      For whom the Caesar sighed,
      And the world-loser died,—­
    The darling of the Nile.


[8] Fergusson, “History of Architecture,” vol. i. pp. 91, 92.

Project Gutenberg
Ancient Egypt from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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