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The Sphinx's Children

The Sphinx's Children and Other People (New York: Tickner, 1886)


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12 THE SPHINX'S CHILDREN

the hot simoom licked up its sands, and, whirling them madly over the dead plain, dashed them against the silent Sphinx, and grain by grain heaped her slow-growing grave ; the Nile spread its waters across the green valley, and lapped its brink with a watery thirst for land, and then receded to its channel, and poured its ancient flood still downward to the sea ; worshipped, or desecrated ; threaded by black Nubian boatmen, who mocked its sacred name with such savage mirth as satire might have spirted from their hairy lips ; navigated by keen-eyed Arabs, lithe and (lark and treacherous as the river beneath them ; Coptic shepherds, lingering on the brink, drank the sweet waters, and led their flocks to drink at the shallows, when the shepherd's star cleft that deepest sky with its crest, and warned the simple people of their hour;—yet for-ever stood the Sphinx, passionately patient, looking for sunrise, over desert, vale, and river, — beyond man, — to her hour. —And the hour came.

Once to all things comes their hour. The black column of basalt quivers to its heart with one keen lightning thrill that vindicates its kin to the electric flash without ; the granite cliff loses one atom from its bald front, and every other atom quails before the dumb shiver of gravitation and shifts its place ; the breathing, breathless marble, which a sculptor has rescued from its primeval sleep, and, repeating after God, though with stammering and insufficient lips, the great drama of Paradise, makes a man out of dust, — once, once, in the deadness of its beauty, that marble thrills with magnetic life, drinks its maker's soul, repeats the Paradisiac amen, and owns that it is good. Yea, greater miracle of transcendental truth, — once,—



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