by Richard Wilbur January 5, 2009
O Egypt, Egypt�so the great lament
Of thrice-great Hermes went�
Nothing of thy religion shall remain
Save fables, which thy children shall disdain.
His grieving eye foresaw
The world's bright fabric overthrown
Which married star to stone
And charged all things with awe.
And what, in that dismantled world, could be
More fabulous than he?
Had he existed? Was he but a name
Tacked on to forgeries which pressed the claim
Of every ancient quack�
That one could from a smoky cell
By talisman or spell
Coerce the Zodiac?
Still, still we summon him at midnight hour
To Milton's pensive tower,
And hear him tell again how, then and now,
Creation is a house of mirrors, how
Each herb that sips the dew
Dazzles the eye with many small
Reflections of the All�
Which, after all, is true.