By Arthur Crew Inman
Sands, unbroken by mosque or minaret,
Unstruck by tower or battlement;
Sands, endless, unbounded, eternal;
Sands, quivering with reflected heat,
Undulating as waves upon a frozen sea,
Conjoining the sky in a coppered haze
Where monstrous demons, sight-conjured,
Tread reelingly a dance of sun-desire,
Twisting and turning in a burning maze,
Tireless, grotesque, sinister.
Billow on billow of extended barrenness
Horizons unto the uttermost beyond,
As endless as the vast, unclouded firmament
Within whose scintillating waste of blue
The sun’s wide curvature burns far and still.
No spot of verdure meets the ever-seeking eye,
No icy pool where anguished thirst may be slaked,
No green oasis rearing crested palms aloft.
None of these, but in their stead,
Against the palpitating sheet of heat
Fantastic scenes appear and disappear,
Mocking mirages that quicken the eye with hope.
Magic cities stretch, white-walled, their rampart lengths,
Gay with a thousand fluttering pennons;
Swift, heeling ships on sparkling waters ply,
Each prow a-dazzle with the wind-flung spray;
Broad-limbed trees spread emerald shade
By charmed springs in forest deeps;
Cascades, all silverly gleaming,
O’er-leap some greeny-ferned hillside;
Plains, diapered with verdant flowers, reach afar,
Luring wearied feet to tread imagination’s way,—
Empty visions of an empty land
Born of a brain whose nucleus is fire.