Another Egypt

The sullen crowd watched, murmured. Persian troops
marched stone-faced into Thebes. They dragged in chains
some few priests they had spared for later pains
when on the field they burned the rest, in groups

as servants of the Lie. They wanted gold
to pay hired cavalry, and so they flayed
Ra’s priest, then asked the rest, and one betrayed
his trust. The others spat at him. He told

how Pharoah’s treasury in many carts
was gone into the desert to the place
where storm winds hummed through a gigantic face
and led them there. He used his magic arts

to bring sandstorms that cut them to the bone.
No Persians came back. He returned alone.


About rozkaveney

Middleaged, trans, novelist, poet, activist
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5 Responses to Another Egypt

  1. Anonymous says:

    Through this to Ozymandias i was somehow brought to William Morris’s poem “The Haystack in the Floods”, one of the most perfect historical-story poems I know. This one is damn fine too.

    • rozkaveney says:

      I remember Haystack in the Floods being in a schoolbook when I was fourteen, and being one of the first poems that I learned by heart because I wanted to, not because I was made to. I never think of Morris as one of my influences in spite of the fact I wrote a goddam thesis on the man.

  2. lovingboth says:

    Questioning art is always risky

    Hmm, ancient Persians doing religious persecution would be very unusual for them as they didn’t impose Zoroastrianism on the people they conquered. Or is this just about wanting the gold?

    • rozkaveney says:

      Re: Questioning art is always risky

      My impression is that while they didn’t impose Zoroastrianism, they were pretty brutal and intolerant during the period they ruled Egypt, and that this is one of the reasons for the break in tradition at the end of the pharaonic period. Cambyses was a pretty nasty piece of work, after all.

      But yes, I wrote it this way because that was how it needed to feel…

  3. Anonymous says:


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