William Bell Scott

(1811-1890 / Scotland)

The Sphynx - Poem by William Bell Scott


'Tis said that Homer, blind and old,
Wandered round the great lone Sphynx:
I see him blind and all alone,
Grope round that vast misshapen stone
To discern the sense untold,
The answer from our ear that shrinks,
The mystery no hand can hold.

Did he discover even the shape—
Feel what the giant mass expressed—
Recognise the eyes agape—
Know what the monstrous claws confessed?
Poet of poets, greatest one
Born of the Hellenic sun,
Who made the grand song still we sing,
Groping blindly and alone
Round that arcane misshapen stone;
Did it tell thee anything?


The poet old we still revere,
Passed to sing of sword and spear.
In a long thereafter year,
The holy Child, as Scriptures say,
Into Egypt fled away
To find repose a year and day:
And in the night,
Beneath the saffron-hued moonlight,
Against the saffron-coloured sky,
The Sphynx stood their steps too to greet:
And Mary, with the Child divine,
Slept between its mighty feet,
Sheltered there as in a shrine;
Behold, the light
From out the Child, the Child divine,
Shone up into the vast wide eyes,
And made the arching eyelids bright
Against the darkening midnight skies.

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Poem Submitted: Thursday, April 22, 2010

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