Written upon hearing that slavery had been formally abolished in Egypt. Unhappily, the professions and pledges of the vacillating government of Egypt proved unreliable.
BY fire and cloud, across the desert sand,
And through the parted waves,
From their long bondage, with an outstretched hand,
God led the Hebrew slaves!
Dead as the letter of the Pentateuch,
As Egypt’s statues cold,
In the adytum of the sacred book
Now stands that marvel old.
“Lo, God is great!” the simple Moslem says.
We seek the ancient date,
Turn the dry scroll, and make that living phrase
A dead one: “God was great!”
And, like the Coptic monks by Mousa’s wells,
We dream of wonders past,
Vague as the tales the wandering Arab tells,
Each drowsier than the last.
O fools and blind! Above the Pyramids
Stretches once more that hand,
And tranced Egypt, from her stony lids,
Flings back her veil of sand.
And morning-smitten Memnon, singing, wakes;
And, listening by his Nile,
O’er Ammon’s grave and awful visage breaks
A sweet and human smile.
Not, as before, with hail and fire, and call
Of death for midnight graves,
But in the stillness of the noonday, fall
The fetters of the slaves.
No longer through the Red Sea, as of old,
The bondmen walk dry shod;
Through human hearts, by love of Him controlled,
Runs now that path of God