'Here will I build a temple, I the Lord,
Ramses the Great, crowned with the Double Crown,
Son of the Sun, whose chariot wheels swept down
The hosts of Kadesh, and whose thirsty sword
Hath revelled in this Ethiopian horde,
Smiting their necks. To teach them my renown,
Pyloned and obelisked in many a town,
I build a shrine wherein to be adored.
Take me this mountain of the living rock;
Hew it and hollow; carve its river-face
As mountain never yet was carved, to bear
My likenesses repeated like a prayer;
Then probe it to its inmost secret place,
And sculpture godhood from the savage block.'
The temple-cliff against the soft, deep blue
Of Nubia's star-sown sky stands ashen-grey,
Save where like sifted snow or frosted spray
The moonlight blanches it. Supreme in view
Sit throned the four colossi, emblems true
Of thine illimitable pride, thou clay,
Dust of the desert, Ramses, strewn to-day
In shattered images thine Egypt through.
Yet the stupendous Four are meek to Him
Graved at the hewn rock's heart, eternal, dim,
A God with Gods. With that dread Trinity,
Burning Harmachis, and the death-white Ptah
And, Lord of Thrones, the high-plumed Ammon-Ra,
The Pharaoh mates his mock divinity.
The dawn-light steals across the solemn Nile,
Warms the huge knees and stony, silent lips
Of those ranged giants, through the portal slips
And up the great Osiris columns, while
Chamber on chamber brightens, aisle on aisle.
The walls wax wonderful with mystic ships
And pageantry of war. Blue lotus dips
In sacrifice, and sudden faces smile.
Yet poignant, penetrant, the level beam
Strikes down those dusky courts to that last gloom
Of Zenith Splendor, and the Sun in Tomb
Of Night, with Ramses, their beloved one,
And fires their altar with a fleeting gleam.