And now everybody has gone: the colonnades are empty and the noise of the dynamos has ceased. Midday approaches with its torpor. The whole temple seems to be ablaze with rays, and I watch the clear-cut shadows cast by this forest of stone gradually shortening on the ground. The sun, which just now shone, all smiles and gaiety, upon the quay of the new town amid the uproar of the stall-keepers, the donkey drivers and the cosmopolitan passengers, casts here a sullen, impassive and consuming fire. And meanwhile the shadows shorten—and just as they do every day, beneath this sky which is never overcast, just as they have done for five and thirty centuries, these columns, these friezes and this temple itself, like a mysterious and solemn sundial, record patiently on the ground the slow passing of the hours. Verily for us, the ephemerae of thought, this unbroken continuity of the sun of Egypt has more of melancholy even than the changing, overcast skies of our climate.
And now, at last, the temple is restored to solitude and all noise in the neighbourhood has ceased.
An avenue bordered by very high columns, of which the capitals are in the form of the full-blown flowers of the papyrus, leads me to a place shut in and almost terrible, where is massed an assembly of colossi. Two, who, if they were standing, would be quite ten yards in height, are seated on thrones on either side of the entrance. The others, ranged on the three sides of the courtyard, stand upright behind colonnades, but look as if they were about to issue thence and to stride rapidly towards me. Some broken and battered, have lost their faces and preserve only their intimidating attitude. Those that remain intact—white faces beneath their Sphinx’s headgear—open their eyes wide and smile.