The Mummy

IN these dim galleries of the world,
Where bits of battered greatness lie,
Lo! here, with eyes long sealed, am I,
With blackened lips once proudly curled, —
Bound down and swathed, who was a queen,
Gazed idly on by all who pass,
All shriveled, shrunk, and put between
These four walls of clear glass.
Three thousand years since that dark day,
With sad chants flung on the red air,
When the great bull Apis bare
Beyond the western hills away
That which ye see uncoffined here
Whose coffin painted was, and sweet
With perfumes spilling from the bier
Of scents sewn in my sheet.
Great pomp there was that buried me:
The boat that carried me by night
Was hung with trappings gold and white,
Had muffled oars that dipped the sea,
Broad oars that swung out measuredly,
And swept my silent state along
Beneath its shadowed canopy,
With sounds of sullen song.
With funeral jars and offerings
Engraved with long-forgotten signs
Put in the stone with curious lines,
And blazoned with strange patterned things
Like unto those that banded me
Above the place where I was hid,
Red-painted on my canopy,
Gold on my coffin lid.
So to my sepulture I went,
With dull-winged scarabei dried
Laid in the hollow of my side,
Fragrant with myrrhs and borrowed scent ;
Hedged from Ambition’s tireless strife,
Out of the palace put away,
From languid loves that weary life,
I, who was yesterday.
I, who was, am not, yet shall be,
Lie straitly here, who reigned a queen,
A handful of fine dust between
Four walls of glass for all to see,
With bits of battered greatness near.
Dwell on it, ye who idly pass
My body’s shell uncoffined here
Behind these walls of glass.

BRITISH MUSEUM, 1887.