Poem by Pete Crowther
Deep in the temple’s dark sanctum stands she
Like a tall statue so still and so grave
Only the glow from her cheek and her brow
Speak of the heartbeat that pulses within.
Candlelight flickers between the twin horns
Lighting the moondisc she wears on her head.
Slim as a deer, see her shimmering dress
Fall like a wave from her throat to her feet.
Bare-footed priestesses praise her with song,
Dancing around her with rhythmical steps,
They rattle their sistrums and tunefully play
Hymns to the goddess on lyre and pipe.
Wife of Osiris and Horus her child,
Egyptians have worshipped her three thousand years,
Isis the goddess and mother of kings,
Healer, protector and maker of spells,
Bestower of blessings on all earthly joys,
Many have turned to her, sent up their prayers,
Gratefully raised to her temples and shrines.
Now in this land only Philae is left,
Built on an island beset by a sea
Walked on by Jesus, the new jealous god
Drowning in sorrow all laughter and light,
Raising the sword of religious war.
Sternly he seeks out his rivals to crush,
So sent by Justinian to close down the shrine,
Christian zealots on Philae converged.
Grim Theodorus, the bishop in charge
Pulled down the statues of Isis with scorn,
Declared that he’d cleansed it of all pagan filth,
Installed there a church to the Christian God,
Named it for Mary, that virgin so mild.
But wisest of goddesses, Isis had power
Greater than Thetis to don a disguise.
Quickly her moondisc and sweet curving horns
Changed to a circlet of glittering stars.
Down came her shimmering goddess’s dress,
Swapped for a simple and chaste-looking robe.
None of the Christians noticed the change
So now she is living in every high church
Patiently waiting her chance to emerge
As Isis the goddess of pleasure and love.
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