February 11th, 2020

Shockheaded Peter

Address to the Mummy... and its answer

Address to the Mummy.

"And thou hast walked about, (how strange a story!)
In Thebes' streets three thousand years ago,
When the Memnonium was in all its glory,
And time had not begun to overthrow
Those temples, palaces and piles stupendous,

Of which the very ruins are tremendous. "Perhaps that very hand now pinioned flat,
Has hob-a-nobbed with Pharaoh, glass to glass;
Or dropped a half-penny in Homer's hat; Or doffed thine own to let Queen Dido pass;
Or held, by Solomon's own invitation,
A torch at the great Temple's dedication.

"Thou couldst develop—if that withered tongue
Could tell us what those sightless orbs have seen—
How the world looked when it was fresh and young
And the great deluge still had left it green;
Or was it then so old that history's pages
Contained no record of its early ages?

"Since first thy form was in this box extended
We have, above ground, seen some strange mutations;
The Roman Empire has begun and ended,
New worlds have risen—we have lost old nations;
And countless kings have into dust been humbled,
While not a fragment of thy flesh has crumbled.

"If the tomb's secrets may not be confessed,
The nature of thy private life unfold:
A heart has throbbed beneath that leathern breast,
And tears adown that dusty cheek have rolled;
Have children climbed those knees and kissed that face?
What was thy name and station, age and race?"

Answer.

"Child of the later days! thy words have broken
A spell that long has bound these lungs of clay,
For since this smoke-dried tongue of mine hath spoken,
Three thousand tedious years have rolled away.
Unswathed at length, I 'stand at ease' before ye.
List, then. O list, while I unfold my story."

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