Lily of the Nile
Martha Lavinia Hoffman
Queenly lily, fair and fragrant,
I have watched thy charms unroll
’Till thy gold embossed scepter
Gleams against thy spotless scroll.
Stately Ethiopian princess
From thy realm a fair exile
Vieing with the rose in sweetness.
Queenly lily of the Nile.
Lovely in thy child-like beauty,
Yet majestic in thy pride;
Could’st thou be more sweetly gracious
Nodding by the river side?
Breath like zephyrs freshly laden
From some flower-wreathed ocean isle;
Snow-white Ethiopian maiden,
Modest lily of the Nile.
Dost thou feel no pang of longing,
Dost thou breathe no weary sigh
For thy native, Orient splendor—
For thy native, sunlit sky?
Far away, thou knowest not whither,
Many, many a weary mile,
Thy fair sisters bloom and wither,
Stately lily of the Nile.
Bloom beneath the palm-tree’s shadow
Just along the river’s brink,
Where gay birds, with brilliant plumage
Soar to sing, and stoop to drink.
Plucked by Egypt’s dark-eyed daughters
To adorn some granite pile—
Fresher from their native waters,
Snowy lily of the Nile.
‘Midst those scenes of Eastern splendor
Thy ancestral race began—
Where the night of heathen darkness
Spread abroad its withering ban;
Yet no spot of man’s transgressing
Could thy purity defile,
Looking heavenward for each blessing,
Saintly lily of the Nile.
Did they view thy purer glory
With their darkened minds unawed?
Did they learn of thee no lesson
Of the power and love of God?
Like a spotless, white-winged angel
Sent to them untouched by guile,
Did they spurn thy glad evangel,
Spotless lily of the Nile?
O, could they have looked from Nature
Unto Nature’s God alone,
Would they not have scorned to worship
Images of wood and stone?
Would they not, thy beauty seeing,
Have looked up in faith erewhile
To the God who gave thee being
Matchless lily of the Nile?