The Nature of Things - The NIle

Titus Lucretius

The Nile now calls us, pride of Egypt’s plains:   
Sole stream on earth its boundaries that o’erflows   
Punctual, and scatters plenty. When the year   
Now glows with perfect summer, leaps its tide   
Broad o’er the champaign, for the north-wind now,           
The Etesian breeze, against its mouth direct   
Blows with perpetual winnow; every surge   
Hence loiters slow, the total current swells,   
And wave o’er wave its loftiest bank surmounts.   
For that the fixed monsoon that now prevails           
Flows from the cold stars of the northern pole   
None e’er can doubt; while rolls the Nile adverse   
Full from the south, from realms of torrid heat,   
Haunts of the Ethiop-tribes; yet far beyond   
First bubbling, distant, o’er the burning line.           
  Then ocean, haply, by the undevious breeze   
Blown up its channel, heaves with every wave   
Heaps of high sands, and dams its wonted course:   
Whence narrower, too, its exit to the main,   
And with less force the tardy stream descends.           
  Or, towards its fountain, ampler rains, perchance,   
Fall, as the Etesian fans, now wide unfurled,   
Ply the big clouds perpetual from the north   
Far o’er the red equator; where, condensed,   
Ponderous, and low, against the hills they strike,           
And shed their treasures o’er the rising flood.   
Or, from the Ethiop-mountains, the bright sun   
Now full matured, with deep dissolving ray   
May melt the agglomerate snows, and down the plains   
Drive them, augmenting, hence, the incipient stream.


Lucretius knew, more than 2,000 years ago, that the Nile rose in the Ethiopian Highlands (this is the case for the Blue Nile). His description of the Nile is one of the many that have been written through thousands of years. Poetry Atlas has collected many poems about the Nile.

Main Location:

River Nile