The Great War

from War: an Ode And Other Poems, an electronic edition

The Nile

HOW did He fashion it,He who made it--

This mysterious dreamy land,

Here an oasis with palms to shade it,

Here a desert of tawny sand?

How did He fashion it, how did He make it--

This enchanted land of the Nile?

With a thunder-peal or a sigh did He make it?

A lightning flash, or a loving smile?

Æons ago, in dreams He saw it,

Lying in unborn beauty afar;

Æons long He toiled to draw it,

Out of the core of a burning star.

Terrace by terrace, He built the mountains

Out of the silt of the ancient sea;

Cloudlet by cloudlet, He made the fountains

To feed the river that was to be.

He made the Nile; He filled and fraught it

With golden loads of a magic mire;

He moulded the land, he forged and wrought it,

Now by earthquake, and now by fire.

Age by age He brought to prepare it,

A sculptor's skill, and a painter's art,

Then, He thought in His love to share it,

And made a burning and beating heart.

He made thy heart that His heart might fill it

With dreams of beauty that He had made;

He made thy soul that His Art might thrill it

With palm, and lotus, and sun, and shade.

And I who watch thee as thou art dreaming

The dream of the mind that made the whole,

Discern His love in thy beauty gleaming,

In thy fair spirit discern His soul,

And know to what end His Art has striven

In the desert below, and the sky above.--

Know that the beauty of earth is given

To the heart of man by the Hand of Love.

Praise, O praise to the Artist Giver,

Who made the earth, and the sky, and the sea,

And the lovely dream of the flowing river,

And the lovelier living dream of thee.

Here upon earth there is no abiding,

Still like the Nile life floweth on,

And still our lives are floating, and gliding,

Into the twilight, out of the dawn.

Yet in life can be no forgetting

Of the desert's peace, of the river's calm,

Of thy lips and eyes in their lovely setting

Of maize, and lotus, and corn, and palm.