Monday, August 17, 2015

Curious ancient Egypt Hippo poem by famed war poet Rupert Brooke

Demon hippo, British Museum

The young man Rupert Brooke who was to write 'The Soldier' (If I should die, think only this of me: / That there's some corner of a foreign field / That is for ever England...) also turned his pen to whimsy in this poem about ancient Egypt... 

On the Death of Smet-Smet, the Hippopotamus-Goddess

(The Priests within the Temple)

SHE was wrinkled and huge and hideous? She was our Mother.
She was lustful and lewd?—but a God; we had none other.
In the day She was hidden and dumb, but at nightfall moaned in the shade;
We shuddered and gave Her Her will in the darkness; we were afraid.
(The People without)

She sent us pain,
  And we bowed before Her;
She smiled again
  And bade us adore Her.
She solaced our woe
  And soothed our sighing;       10
And what shall we do
  Now God is dying?
(The Priests within)

She was hungry and ate our children;—how should we stay Her?
She took our young men and our maidens;—ours to obey Her.
We were loathèd and mocked and reviled of all nations; that was our pride.       15
She fed us, protected us, loved us, and killed us; now She has died.
(The People without)

She was so strong;
  But death is stronger.
She ruled us long;
  But Time is longer.       20
She solaced our woe
  And soothed our sighing;
And what shall we do
  Now God is dying?

Tawaret, benign hippo goddess, British Museum