Mean while thro’ savage woods, and deserts vast,
The captive with his Midian masters past.
At last rich Egypt’s pleasant coasts are seen,
The level meads drest with immortal green;
Between them fertile Nile directs his course,
And nobly flows from his immortal source.
Along the borders of the sacred flood,
Aspiring groves and stately cities stood:
Here ancient Tanais in her height appear’d,
Before Amphion’s lute the Theban wall had rear’d.
The sun’s devoted city, radiant On,
With roofs emboss’d, and golden foliage shone;
Ere skilful Vulcan was at Lemnos nam’d,
Or Cynthia’s darts, or shields for Pallas fram’d.
Distinct from these, on the Pelusian strands,
Ansana crown’d with silver turrets stands;
Rais’d to its height, as old tradition tells,
By pow’rful magick, and secur’d by spells:
Th’ Egyptian wizards here themselves immure,
Converse with hell, and practice rites impure.
Now mighty pyramids the sight surprise,
On Masre’s plain the spiral tow’rs arise.
Redousa here magnificently shrouds
Its lofty head among surrounding clouds:
By Saurid built, the daring structure stood
The fury of the universal flood.
Phacat and Samir’s pointed tops ascend,
And o’er the fields their lengthning shades extend;
Their compass sacred to the dead remain,
Within eternal night and silence reign;
No lightsom ray salutes them from the sky,
But glaring lamps depending from on high,
With sickly gleams the hollow space supply.
Here ancient kings, embalm’d with wond’rous cost,
A long exemption from corruption boast:
In artful figures some are sitting plac’d,
With fruitless pomp, and idle ensigns grac’d;
While others stretch’d in sleeping postures lie,
On folding carpets of imperial dye:
Their hov’ring ghosts, pleas’d with this mimick pride,
Among the breathless carcases reside.
But what prodigious things within were shewn,
Were to the Hebrew stranger yet unknown,
Astonish’d at their outward bulk alone.
And now arriv’d where Zoan’s wall inclos’d
Imperial tow’rs, the Midianites expos’d
Their fragrant traffick, with the handsom slave
His mind beyond his years compos’d and grave;
His aspect something spoke divinely great,
Something that mark’d him for a nobler fate.
A generous captain, chief of Pharaoh’s bands,
Admiring much the graceful captive, stands,
Then gives the Midianites their full demands.
A sudden friendship in his breast he finds,
Experienc’d only by unvulgar minds:
Some heav’nly being had prepar’d his thought,
And on his heart the kind impression wrought.
Without regret, young stranger, follow me,
Said Potiphar, I now have ransom’d thee;
From servitude this moment thou art free.
The youth receiv’d the favour with a grace,
That answer’d all the promise of his face.
Fronting the royal house, a structure crown’d
With turrets stood, and palmy groves around;
Discoursing, hither thro’ the walks they went,
Both pleas’d alike, and equally content.
The seat they reach’d, when for a costly vest
The master call’d; in this the youth they dress’d:
No more disparag’d with a slave’s attire,
His faultless shape and features all admire.
His hair, like palest amber, from his crown
In floating curls and shining waves fell down.
Young Paris such surprising charms display’d,
When first in gold and Tyrian silks array’d,
He laid his crook aside, forgot the swain,
And bid adieu to Ida’s flow’ry plain.
Then for his wife the captain bids them send,
And shews with boasting joy his purchas’d friend.
The fair Sabrina, lately made his bride,
Was in her beauty’s celebrated pride.
Her large black eyes shone with a sprightly fire,
And love at ev’ry fatal glance inspire.
The swarthy lustre of her charming face
The full blown lily and the rose disgrace.
Her glossy hair outvy’d the raven’s wings,
And curl’d about her neck in wanton rings.
Affectedly she took a careless view,
And to her own apartment soon withdrew.
Joseph belov’d and happy long remain’d,
And from his lord successive favours gain’d;
Who now at home grown prosp’rous, and abroad,
Believes his guest some favourable god:
He gives him o’er his house the full command,
Intrusting all his treasures to his hand.
Mean time Sabrina feeds within her breast
A secret fire, but shame its rage supprest,
When first she saw the charming Hebrew’s eyes,
She felt, but well dissembled the surprise;
But thro’ her various arts an inward care
The languors of her pensive looks declare.
Cyrena found the change, (a Syrian maid,
Well-born, but from her native coasts betray’d):
She saw the change, but led by nicer laws,
Was thoughtless still of its reproachful cause.
Her voice, her easy wit, her eloquence,
Could hold the wildest passion in suspense.
Attending oft’ her mistress to a grove,
Their usual walk with pleasing tales she strove
To entertain her thoughts, and charm her grief;
Nor fail’d her arts to give a short relief.
Her native clime the pleasing subject proves,
The Syrian pomp, their customs, and their loves:
Among the rest Sabrina hears her name
Semiramis, a queen of antient fame,
And ask’d her now the story to relate;
Repos’d beneath a spreading palm they sat.
(Elizabeth Singer Rowe)
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