Mathilde Blind Poems >>
The Desert

Uncircumscribed, unmeasured, vast,
  Eternal as the Sea;
What lacks the tidal sea thou hast—
  Profound stability.

Beneath the sun that burns and brands
  In hushed Noon's halting breath,
Calm as the Sphinx upon thy sands
  Thou art—nay, calm as death.

The desert foxes hide in holes,
  The jackal seeks his lair;
The sombre rocks, like reddening coals,
  Glow lurid in the glare.

Only some vulture far away,
  Bald-headed, harpy-eyed,
Flaps down on lazy wing to prey
  On what has lately died.

No palm tree lifts a lonely shade,
  No dove is on the wing;
It seems a land which Nature made
  Without a living thing,

Or wreckage of some older world,
  Ere children grew, or flowers,
When rocks and hissing stones were hurled
  In hot, volcanic showers.

The solemn Blue bends over all;
  Far as winged thought may flee
Roll ridges of black mountain wall,
  And flat sands like the sea.

No trace of footsteps to be seen,
  No tent, no smoking roof;
Nay, even the vagrant Beeshareen
  Keeps warily aloof.

But yon, mid tumbled hillocks prone,
  Some human form I scan—
A human form, indeed, but stone:
  A cold, colossal Man!

How came he here mid piling sands,
  Like some huge cliff enisled,
Osiris-wise, with folded hands,
  Mute spirit of the Wild?

Ages ago the hands that hewed,
  And in the living rock
Carved this Colossus, granite-thewed
  And curled each crispy lock:

Ages ago have dropped to rest
  And left him passive, prone,
Forgotten on earth's barren breast,
  Half statue and half stone.

And Persia ruled and Palestine;
  And o'er her violet seas
Arose, with marble gods divine,
  The grace of god-like Greece.

And Rome, the Mistress of the World,
  Amid her diadem
Of Eastern Empires set impearled
  The Scarab's mystic gem.

Perchance he has been lying here
  Since first the world began,
Poor Titan of some earlier sphere
  Of prehistoric Man!

To whom we are as idle flies,
  That fuss and buzz their day;
While still immutable he lies,
  As long ago he lay.

Empurpled in the Afterglow,
  Thou, with the Sun alone,
Of all the stormy waste below,
  Art King, but king of stone!

Uncircumscribed, unmeasured, vast,
  Eternal as the Sea,
The present here becomes the past,
  For all futurity.