Tell him you found me as a book
Some hasty few had stopped to read
In that red glare: then ventured on
For treasure nearer to their meed.
As ushu wood, thin chains of gold
Writhing like snakes, carnelian rings —
Such spoil as made the tomb-thief bold
In days of Egypt’s kings.
Say that some tale of moon-blanched wands
(A lie, my lord) was ciphered here —
Of white and necromantic hands
That drew down blossoms from the air;
And many a proud and vanquished town
Whose gates burnt once against the sky
Told its despair unto this brown
Scroll that your men cast idly by.
Say that some little you could trace
Of questings in a phoenix wood —
The legend of a lovely face,
Its sorrows never understood.
Say, I had whiled an idle hour
With ghosts of what has never been —
The silver hind, the sorcerer’s flower,
The breasts of the immortal Queen.
But why should he whose soldier’s hands
Weigh not a full world overmuch
Dream that the crystal tower yet stands?
Let beggared knights go seek for such.
And lest he doubt your wisdom, say
That sapphire lettering, faded blot
Were fired in Alexandria,
Their meaning soon must be forgot.