In Divers Tones

by Charles G.D. Roberts

Edited by Tracy Ware


 

KHARTOUM


 

Set in the fierce red desert for a sword,
   Drawn and deep-driven implacably! The tide
   Of scorching sand that chafes thy landward side
Storming thy palms; and past thy front outpoured
The Nile’s vast dread and wonder! Late there roared
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   (While far off paused the long war, long defied)
   Mad tumult thro’ thy streets; and Gordon died,
Slaughtered amid the yelling rebel horde!

Yet, spite of shame and wrathful tears, Khartoum,
   We owe thee certain thanks, for thou hast shown

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      How still the one a thousand crowds outweighs,—
Still one man’s mood sways millions,—one man’s doom
   Smites nations;—and our burning spirits own
      Not sordid these nor unheroic days!