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Ballade of the Sphinx

From The Times Dispatch, February 25, 1914. By Thomas Lomax Hunter.

Grim, inscrutable wise old Sphinx,
    Halfway hid in the desert sands;
Could we know what it knows and thinks,
    Understand as it understands,
The answer would be in our hands,
    That sages hint and seers foretell.
Knowing, but silent, there it stands—
    What is the riddle it keeps so well?

Grim, inscrutable, wise old Sphinx,
    Old and wise when the world was young;
We are weary of nods and winks,
    And guesses from every witless tongue,
Merest crumbs to the starving flung.
    Tell us something truly, tell
What was the song the Sirens sung?
    What is the riddle you keep so well?

What was the meaning of Memnon’s hall?
    What was hidden from mortal eyes
In Isis’s temple behind the veil,
    To heed and hark our sacrifice?
What are all of the mysteries
    Within whose fearsome dark we dwell?
Why do the gods make no replies?
    What is the riddle you keep so well?

Sphinx, inscrutable, scornful, wise,
    (Telling naught, for there is naught to tell)
Mysteries are but woven lies—
    This is the riddle you keep so well.

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