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Suggested by a notice of Sir Douglas Forsyth's account of the buried cities of the Gobi desert, in Eastern Turkestan.

Under the sands, under the sands!
Fair city of yore, not a vestige stands
On the wide, wide waste of they buried pride,--
Of the beauty and splendor that with thee died.
Great dumb hot billows were over thee rolled,
Silently, silently, fold upon fold;
No coral wreaths cling to the crumbling walls,
No sweet sirens sing in thy lordly halls.
Of palaces under the deep salt brine
The wild waves whisper, but not of thine!
O queen of the desert! what wizard spell
Erst laid thee to rest 'neath that surgeless swell?
Thou'rt chained, by the desert's burning bands,
A beautiful captive under the sands.


Under the sands, under the sands!
Spellbound enchantress of tropical lands,
No rustle of grass on they tomb is heard,
Nor chirp of cricket, nor carol of bird;
The lank lizard traileth its lazy length
On the lonely graves of thy wasted strength.
By the deadly scythe of the hot cyclone
Was thy princely harvest of glory mown;
With a swift fell swoop did it lay thee low,
Or, day after day, did the sand-waves flow
Through thy courts, with their Eastern splendor rife,
Stifling the tide of thy fervid life,
Till thy pulsing hearts and busy hands
Were thralled by the pulseless desert sands?
No answering voice from the past doth come,
For the years, like the desert sands, are dumb.


Under the sands, under the sands!
Of the things we love in life's desert lands,
Some fall, some change 'neath the typhoon's breath
(For life is a robber as surely as death),
And the sands of time, be they flecked with gold,
Over the heaps of youth's treasures are rolled;
Over its pleasures and passions they creep,
Burying them stealthily, burying them deep
Down life's dusty high-road at noontide we pass,
Still dreaming of morn and the dew on the grass;
And wearing the laurels of favor today,
We sigh for the daisy-chains woven in May.
The mother of heroes, with fickle unrest,
Oft yearns for the babies that hung on her breast,--
For their crooning caresses and soft dimpled hands,
Left in life's desert hid under the sands.


Under the sands, under the sands!
Seekers of science, the wind's burning brands,
And the centuries, leave ye no chart to unroll?
Each long yellow wave is an unwritten scroll.
Ye have found a dead city, and now ye would read
Her glory and downfall, her nation and creed;
The cycles of time must forever revolve,
And leave us forever fresh problems to solve.
Mark nature's fair lessons,--fields, blossoms, and trees,
Are the wind-buried cities more wondrous than these?
Unearth their lost tablets, translate their lost lore
(Time's footprints lie deep on that desolate shore)
And when ye have found them, ye workers and seers,
Of what do they tell--save the march of the years;
Of the glory time gathers and leaves in the dust.
Read nature's pure teachings of wisdom and trust,--
The bright moth that springs from a lifeless cocoon,
The dead grain uprisen in beauty so soon.
Man's carved hieroglyphics a dead strength defines,
Through God's "picture writing" divinity shines;
The lost builders live, while the work of their hands
Lies, shrouded in mystery, under the sands.