The Poetical Works of John Keats/To the Nile

First published posthumously on 19 July 1838. Composed 4 February 1818[1]

  1. The Complete Works of John Keats ed. by H. B. Forman, Vol. II. NY, T. Y. Crowell, 1901, p. 195.


Son of the old moon-mountains African!
Stream of the Pyramid and Crocodile!
We call thee fruitful, and that very while
A desert fills our seeing's inward span:

Nurse of swart nations since the world began
Art thou so fruitful? or dost thou beguile
Those men to honor thee, who, worn with toil,
Rest them a space 'twixt Cairo and Decan?
O may dark fancies err! They surely do;
'Tis ignorance that makes a barren waste
Of all beyond itself. Thou dost bedew
Green rushes like our rivers, and dost taste
The pleasant sun-rise. Green isles hast thou too,
And to the sea as happily dost haste.