Cleopatra's Needle

Nicholas Michell

What obelisk northward meets the curious eye?   
Rich as an orient gem, it courts the sky;   
Its tapering sides a myriad sculptures grace,   
Dark mystic writing of earth’s early race.   
Brought from far Thebes, it decked the splendid pile           
Where Beauty, famed forever, shed her smile;   
Hence to yon shaft cling memories sweet and rare,   
And lore and love their souls are breathing there.   
Hail, Cleopatra! Egypt’s peerless queen!   
Though crushing Ruin walks the darkened scene,           
Still seems her spirit, starlike, to illume   
The mouldered palace and the rock-cut tomb,   
Along the columned path to wander slow,   
Or fill dark courts with regal pomp and show;   
Across yon deep her galley ploughs its way,           
The oars of silver flashing through the spray,   
While wanton zephyrs spread the silken sail,   
And airy music dies on summer’s gale.   
Yes, her bright shade, her memory, haunt each spot;   
The choked-up fount, the ocean’s sparry grot,           
The flowers that bloom on Pharos’ breezy isle,   
The graceful palms that fringe the branching Nile,   
The glittering wrecks of glory’s vanished hour,—   
All speak her fame and love’s undying power.

This ancient Egyptian obelisk stood in Alexandria until 1880 when it was sent to the USA as a gift from the ruler of Egypt, Khedive Ismail. It is now in Central Park, just West of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

Main Location:

Cleopatra's Needle, Obelisk, Central Park, Manhattan, New York, NY

Other locations:

Cleopatra's Needle in its original setting by the sea in Alexandria. The obelisk is now in Central Park, New York City