by George Sterling (1869–1926)
Sargon is dust, Semiramis a clod!
In crypts profaned the moon at midnight peers;
The owl upon the Sphinx hoots in her ears,
And scant and sear the desert grasses nod
Where once the armies of Assyria trod,
With younger sunlight splendid on the spears;
The lichens cling the closer with the years,
And seal the eyelids of the weary god.
Where high the tombs of royal Egypt heave,
The vulture shadows with arrested wings
The indecipherable boast of kings,
As Arab children hear their mother’s cry
And leave in mockery their toy—they leave
The skull of Pharaoh staring at the sky.
Second of “Three Sonnets on Oblivion”
Dedicated to Mr. Raphael Weill
Sterling, George. A Wine of Wizardry and Other Poems. (San Francisco: A. M. Robertson 1909).
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