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Short poem

Leigh Hunt (1784-1859)

A Thought of the Nile

              1It flows through old hushed Egypt and its sands,
              2    Like some grave mighty thought threading a dream,
              3    And times and things, as in that vision, seem
              4Keeping along it their eternal stands,--
              5Caves, pillars, pyramids, the shepherd bands
              6    That roamed through the young world, the glory extreme
              7    Of high Sesostris, and that southern beam,
              8The laughing queen that caught the world's great hands.

              9Then comes a mightier silence, stern and strong,
            10As of a world left empty of its throng,
            11    And the void weighs on us; and then we wake,
            12And hear the fruitful stream lapsing along
            13    Twixt villages, and think how we shall take
            14    Our own calm journey on for human sake.


1] First published with the title "The Nile." This is considered to be the sonnet on the Nile written in friendly competition with Keats and Shelley.

7] Sesostris: Rameses II, king of Egypt ca. 1300 B.C..
that southern beam: Cleopatra.

Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: Leigh Hunt, Foliage; or, Poems Original and translated (London: C. & J. Ollier, 1818). B-11 3716 Fisher Rare Book Library
First publication date: 1818
RPO poem editor: J. D. Robins
RP edition: 2RP.2.155; RPO 1996-2000.
Recent editing: 2:2002/3/8

Form: sonnet
Rhyme: abbaabbaccdcdd

Other poems by Leigh Hunt