White walls

A hundred gates

And it takes all


Simply to walk the length

Along the Nile

There the ships


From India and Greece

From Crete

From Punt

And the river slips

Past the water palaces

And among

The lotus gardens

And the incense trees



The statues of the Pharaoh front

Pavilions where the Pharaoh sees

Himself double crowned

On painted walls

And lotus columns

With captive generals on their knees

And hieroglyphic calls

Upon the gods

To welcome

Rameses the Great

Into their eternal state


There is the sound

The ostrich-plumed

Flabella make

About his throne

As the princes kiss the ground

And the gold bowls of incense fume

And the silver trumpets shake

The ibis from the lacquered eaves

And the world is all his own


Like terraces

The temples rise

To the white escarpment


Immortal air

Blown from the desert


With silence to those

Still living there


And morning brings

The princes and the kings

Tombed in electrum




Their gorgeous meals

Simulacra foods in gold

Served by everlasting slaves

Simulacra men

And the great cold

Of death

Is warmed by a breath

From a simulacrum fan


But it is evening

And what Rabbi Moses told

Sometime in Spain

Of the walk he took

All day

To escape

The ruins

This city being then

Thousands of years old

Happened late

In the afternoon

His travel book

Bearing a date

About fourteen hundred years ago


In the shadows

Which fall

From that white escarpment

The six broken columns glow

And a childlike sphinx


From a lotus grove


And there is also

Rameses the Great

Lying like a stone ship


Around whom visitors walk

And that is all


As night comes

The children cry

In the dust

Begging for food

They are links

With the white city

Of a hundred gates


And in the desert rock

A prince or two


For discovery

The air


Is thin and clear

Silence you can hear


In the night