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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908). A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895. 1895.

Sir Edmund William Gosse 1849–1928

On a Lute Found in a Sarcophagus


WHAT curled and scented sun-girls, almond-eyed,

With lotos-blossoms in their hands and hair,

Have made their swarthy lovers call them fair,

With these spent strings, when brutes were deified,

And Memnon in the sunrise sprang and cried,

And love-winds smote Bubastis, and the bare

Black breasts of carven Pasht received the prayer

Of suppliants bearing gifts from far and wide!

This lute has out-sung Egypt; all the lives

Of violent passion, and the vast calm art

That lasts in granite only, all lie dead;

This little bird of song alone survives,

As fresh as when its fluting smote the heart

Last time the brown slave wore it garlanded.