All through the day the red-brown man
Stands on his perch, in the red-brown bank;
Waters never more gratefully ran,
Cucumbers never more greedily drank.
A small world his, for the sky is half-hidden,
A pole and a bucket, a mat that streams,
But a world large enough to know what was bidden,
And to feel that labour is better than dreams.
And the sun goes up, and the sun goes round,
And round goes the shade of the hurdle o’erhead,
And never a word, and never a sound
But the splash of the bucket that brings him his bread.
And all the day thro’ he bows and bows,
You may see his broad back bend where he stands,
You might think him a dervish saying his vows,
Or praying his prayers, as he lifts his hands.
And he hears the marketers hurrying by,
Gurgle of camel and pattering hoof,
But not for a moment will cease the cry,—
The wheeze and the groan of the long Shadûf.
But I think he knows that the golden grain
Is the gift of the strength of his tireless arm,
That, quite unseen, he is felt in the plain,
And, quite unknown, he is blessed by the farm.
Oh! not unmindful the good gods are!
For him, when the sun has sunk in the west,
The heaven drops into his bucket a star,
And he hies him home, and he takes his rest.
(Idylls and Lyrics of the Nile, p. 73)