The Soil Tillers

By Stephen Cheney

For who can but Tell
Where once reared the great White Wall;
In the coils of Mephitis, Memphis
Breathes no more.  The mounds
Of Horus and Seth bare their souls
Solely to the Lords of the sky.

From the courtyards of the chapels
The pyramids are ladders to the heavens.
Dear Menes of the Great House, your
Colonnades are as rushes to the Nile.
If the two hands of the desert
Close the moist eye of Egypt
Still we will dream of you
As we float through death, our
Clouds gliding homeward to the sun.

Proud to have been lifted up to you,
As you have been lifted up,
As your heart bore us,
As the wind the clouds.

We were great upon the new earth
And now we are gypsies of the wide spaces:
In the joined hands of stars;
In the bonding and dissolving sand;
In the sacred beauty of water —
We are; and are present in the temple
That is the Mind of the lordly man.

(Image: Israelites Leaving Egypt - David Roberts)


  1. It sounds like a love song to me. I don't know what others will read into this but I felt love. Stephen, believe it or not your work brings peace to our mind, thank you!

  2. Carla saw love I saw something more political, like an exodus.

  3. It is interesting what different people see.
    All have their own perspectives.

    The Poem is mainly about the ancient Egyptians who were magnificent in their achievements and now the modern Egyptian peoples who may have forgotten their roots but carry the past glory within their genes. A ‘Tell’ is an archaeology term for a mound of ancient secrets. A buried town, or series of towns one on top of the other; a mound of unexplored ruins. 'Mephitis' refers to the poisonous atmosphere within the buried vaults of Egyptian tombs. The moist eye of Egypt is the Nile, but also the eye of Ra.

    A love poem. Well, it is as a prayer given to the heavens, to the Sun god Ra, who was then the representative, at one time prior to the Exodus in the form of Aton, of the single god versus the many gods. An Adoration.

    As the Exodus:
    Horus (of the two horizons) and Seth are the two ancient Egyptian representatives of Good and Evil. Horus being killed by Seth and yet being resurrected to life again.
    The stories of Moses: Floating through death; Rushes in the Nile; people being lifted up from their toil: as clouds on the wind lead by a hearty man; now gypsies scattered as the Jews; Once great :in David's Israel; Joined hands of stars, the six hands on the star of David, the later joined hands of praise at the birth of Jesus who was titled as was the Roman Emperor ‘the Star of the East’; the dissolving sand by the sacredness of water: the parting of the Red Sea and fall of pursuing forces; present in the Temple, and present in the Mind: the present might of the Jewish race is in the educated minds that have been at the forefront of modern human progress.
    These weavings are secondary, however, the poem's is main theme is a praise to major human leaders of history and to God in the style of ancient Egyptian poetry. Such poetry was made popular by Pharaoh Amenhotep IV who changed his name to Akhenaten, he reigned about 1336-1319 BC; he was one of the first leaders, if not The First, who chose to worship One God rather than many.

    The lack of detail in the Bible as to the times of the Hebrews in slavery in Egypt can be disputed when argument is based on the Biblical text, for instance the name of the hated pharaoh, a major figure, is not stated at all, most unusual, pointing to the practice of most writings being set down long after their depicted events have passed. However that may be, the record from ancient Egypt itself says that the enslaved Israelites built for the pharaoh the suburb in Heliopolis called Pithom, which means ‘Estate of Atum’. Heliopolis a city called 'Iunu' meaning in Egyptian 'place of pillars’:: colonnade) that the Bible calls 'On', lies in the suburb of Al-Matariyyah in North-East Cairo. Heliopolis in Hebrew was called 'Beth-Shemesh', House of the Sun. There are many references in the ruins to the pharaoh Ramesses II. Ramesses II was 'Ozymandias' in Greek from his throne name. Reigned 1279-1213 BC. There is a famous poem called 'Ozymandias' by Percy Bysshe Shelley.

    Atum was the god of the city and also the original creator God who made the universe from nothing; the original Eye of the Eye of Ra; who made life and order, but who will eventually destroy the world, submerging it back into the primal waters. The father of the gods and thus of all pharaohs, and thus the pharaohs titled themselves 'The son of Atun': The son of God. Often the Ram is his symbol. As the setting and rising Sun travelling through the underworld at night he is the dying and resurrecting God and the protector of all good people. The banisher of evil serpents with his staff: compare Moses and his serpent-rod.

  4. Correction: Horus, in one tradition was the son of Isis and Osiris. Seth did not kill Horus, it was Osiris who was killed by his brother Seth and Osiris re-arose. Multiple gods, multiple forces and complications, but all systems of gods are under an originator God.

    1. Interesting to see how the same words touch us differently. Thank you for the explanation, Stephen.

  5. Stephen, I was about to correct you on Horus hehe. It's an accomplishment to be able to discuss so many things in one small poem; you and Max are the experts on compactness and brevity hehehe. Aaron's serpent-rod ate all the Pharaoh's magicians' serpent-rods, so much for their gods, huh?

  6. Stephen, dude, thanks for explaining the poem cause I didn't understand it. Poetry is not my thing. I like it when you write about combat, dude!


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