Temple at Dendera

Nicholas Michell

What yonder rises? 'Tis Tentyra's fane,
That stands, like some dark giant, on the plain.
Rival of Karnac, Edfou, stern and lone,
It looks to heaven, its founder, date unknown.
Its lofty portico and painted walls,
Its snake-wreathed globes and dim resounding halls,
Towers where ten thousand sculptured forms ye trace,
Awe with their vastness, charm us with their grace.
And this was Isis' dwelling — still she stands
Breathing from stone, with meekly, lifted hands.
Dark mother! to whom zeal these walls upreared,
Whom mouarchs reverenced, and whom myriads feared,
What wert thou, shrouded in thy silver veil,
That thus the ancient world should bend and quail?
Didst thou, as mortal beauty once adored,
Break by Love's charm the sceptre and the sword?
Wert thou a queen, and, when life's dream was o'er,
A goddess hailed to rule for evermore? —
Vain, mystic being ! will each effort be
To pierce the cloud that wraps thy age and thee,
Thy pompous rites as secret as thy birth,
Thy solemn worship passed away from earth.*

* Author's Note: Isis was paid peculiar homage throughout Egypt; she is said to have been the sister of Osiris ; but the parentage of both is in volved in the mists of fable. Her worship, like that of her brother, descended from Ethiopia, and in process of time it passed beyond Egypt, for we find temples raised to Isis in Greece aud in Italy.