Seymour Green Wheeler Benjamin

I SAW, as in a dream, the pride of Thebes.   
The hundred-gated walls in majesty   
Rose high above the meads where harvest grain   
Waved musical before the morning breeze.   
The strains of Memnon hailed the coming day,           
And sun-gilt wreaths of smoke curled slowly up   
From myriad hecatombs, as mystic rites   
Were offered at the shrines of Mizraim’s gods.   
Lo! winding through the wide champaign, and by   
The eternal Nile, Rameses victor came,           
Leading a veteran host, whose flaming arms   
Had roused Libanus’ eagles, and had gleamed   
Upon the famed Hydaspes’ amber tide.   
The royal pageant moved along the aisle   
Of solemn-featured sphinxes to Karnak,           
Until beneath the pillars lotus-crowned,   
A voice said, “Welcome here, son of the gods.”   
  Such once was Thebes. Meridian glory sheened   
Her battlements ere god-built Ilion fell.   
But now, ye who would vaunt yourselves in man,           
Behold her desolation. Fate has walked   
With hearse-like shadow where the Pharaohs dwelt;   
And now the summer sun diurnal flecks   
With rosy light deserted colonnades,   
Where sings the grasshopper his droning tune,           
Where dreams the desert’s swarthy child, and bleats   
The plaintive flock. The moon glides up the vault,   
And her first rays illume the rugged brows   
Of the Memnonium’s marble men, who loom   
Beneath that pallid light like giant ghosts           
Above the haunted land; the owlet chants   
His wizard requiem o’er Karnak the lone,   
The bat flits round amid the sculptured blocks,   
And the sad night-wind sobs as it has wailed   
For ages through the pylons hoar and gloomed.           
  Like ancient wood, whose river-shadowing trees,   
Stripped of their leafy crests by autumn gales,   
Stand dismal skeletons, and mourn their fate—   
Thus Luxor’s grove of columns has looked down   
August with age these thrice ten hundred years,           
Upon the azure Nile, that rolls sublime,   
A mystery of mysteries, whose founts   
Are sealed to mortal eye. A wilderness   
Weaves o’er its flood arcades of sylvan green,   
Until it leaves its native wilds, and roams           
By empires long decayed, and cities left   
To the hyena’s den. By Thebes it sweeps   
With solitary grandeur towards the sea.   
But still its waves their annual tribute bring,   
And bless the parchéd wold with vernal bloom,           
And pay obeisance at stern Memnon’s feet,—   
The monarch grim of Thebes’s solitude,   
Who to Imagination’s ear yet sings   
The dirge notes of the nations as they die.

The famous seven-gated Thebes in Greece was nothing to the splendour of the 100-gated Thebes, capital of Ancient Egypt - the modern Luxor. There are many poems about Luxor, its temples such as Karnak. There are also poems about the Valley of the Kings and its many royal tombs. The most famous of poems about the ruins of Luxor is the wonderful Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley.

The giant statues of Ramasses II on the west bank of the Nile, known as the Colossi of Memnon, are said to make a mysterious sound, like singing.