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The Glory of the Dead

by niteowl


I was a man once,
a farmer of the flood’s bounty.
I had a wife, a son, a home,
a name.

Now I am shriveled by the sun,
ground down into sand and stone.
The only river I know now is the sweat on my back.
The whips remind me that I cannot rest
in building for the glory of Pharoah
so his soul will know its way home.

When Anubis takes me,
it is mercy.
My heart is light and Horus escorts me
to my brothers in the reeds.

My soul remembers its name
and my family runs to greet me.
On this side of the river,
we toil no more.

One day, a leather-skinned man
hobbles down the path we carved for him
and our laughter ceases as we watch.

As he swears he is sinless,
we wonder what Osiris loves more--
gold or truth?

Like all men,
Pharoah places his heart upon the scale,
watching it teeter back and forth,
until it stays sunken below the feather.

As Anubis tosses the heart aside,
the Pharoah swears with his last words
that there must be some mistake.
But as the beast devours him out of existence,
we know the scales revealed his true glory.


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Points: 101
Reviews: 3

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Sun Jan 27, 2019 3:19 am
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TheEgg wrote a review...



The egg has blessed you with a review.

I really like this! I thought the idea of writing a poem about the Egyptian process of getting into the afterlife was overall fascinating. I just think more could've been added. Your poem lacked imagery, in my opinion. There were some good, strong lines but most seemed very choppy and lacking in words. For example:

I was a man once,
a farmer of the flood’s bounty.
I had a wife, a son, a home,
a name.

I feel like you could have made this feel less choppy. Here's what I would've done:
I once was a man,
a farmer, reaping the rewards of the flood's bounty.
I had a beautiful wife, hansome son, a roof over our heads,
I was even called by name.

Now by no means am I an expert on poetry, and that was just an example.
[quote]
Now I am shriveled by the sun,
ground down into sand and stone.
The only river I know now is the sweat on my back.
The whips remind me that I cannot rest
in building for the glory of Pharoah
so his soul will know its way home.
[quote]
By far my favorite stanza. I could clearly see everything you described, and having that first person viewpoint shows just how faithful much he trusts Pharaoh. I also especially like the 4th line of it.

I know a lot about the Ancient Egyptian religion and their gods, beliefs, and other things. You got the description of the afterlife spot on! Everything in my understanding was accurate. It would've been really cool to have a stanza on the fourty-two judges, though. :D

I really liked this one! Good job.

Long live Big Brother.




niteowl says...


Wow I am honored to be reviewed by such an esteemed egg. :D

I see your point about the first stanza. It wasn't very specific, but I can how adding a little more imagery would help it contrast with the hard life of working on the pyramids. I'll have to think about that one.

I actually did have a line alluding to the forty-two confessions in my first draft: clubs/2989/forum/78287, but I ended up changing it all around for the sake of clarity. The line "As he swears he is sinless" is supposed to refer to that without sounding too strange to someone who doesn't know all the details of the Egyptian afterlife. I could maybe add a little more there for some extra drama.

Thanks again for the review! :D



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Sun Jan 27, 2019 2:41 am
Holysocks wrote a review...



Hey there, Nite! I thought I'd stop by to give you a review! c:

This poem definitely had some interesting images in it, that kinda gave me mixed feelings! I think right from the start this poem had a very gritty vibe- which is awesome because I think it's really good when you get a certain feel from a poem right off the bat. I think this review will mainly be on how this poem came across to me, how it made me feel, etc, in the hopes that you can get an idea to how it may come across to someone!

The only river I know now is the sweat on my back.


This line was definitely an image! It definitely contributed to the gritty sort of tone. But yikes! That's a lot of sweat!

in building for the glory of Pharoah


When I read Pharoah, I was a little shocked! I had been thinking that the poem was about a more modern dayish sort of farmer- or at least, more modern than Pharoah's time (or a Pharoah's time). So it just kinda felt a little abrupt to me, especially since after that, there was a lot of deity's names throughout, even though the first stanza had none of that. So it felt a little out of the blue for some reason. Maybe I'm over-reacting though!

Perhaps this was also due to the mention of Pharoah, but I also started getting a heavy vibe for like... the old testament! That could be simply because that's what I associate Pharoah with? But it just seemed like, there was this farmer who then was doing almost slave labour by the sounds of it, and then there's mention of reeds- which reminds me of the reed sea XP And there's mention of a family greeting him on the other side of a river, and Pharoah's heart on a scale reminds me of that as well. So perhaps I'm just drawing a ton of connections, or perhaps that's what you intended! I just wanted to bring up that that's what I thought of in case you weren't meaning for that, or in case you were wondering if it was conveying what you intended it to!

The thing that I didn't really understand about this poem, was the last bit. It appears that Pharoah was sort of on some sort of trial- kinda like in the Torah, but then he's devoured by a beast- (Anubis? Which I thought was another Egyptian deity? But I could be wrong). And I just don't really get why- especially if it's being done by his own sort of deity?- I guess if he did something wrong by his gods, but I don't really know their rules/laws?- if they have them. Again, perhaps I'm reading too much into it, but I thought I'd bring it up anyway!

In anycase, this was an interesting read- I certainly loved thinking about what it meant! Keep it up! :D

-Holysocks




niteowl says...


Hi Holy! Thanks for the review!

This was based on the Poem a Week prompt "Write about a historical event". I was intending this to be about the life and afterlife of an Egyptian conscripted into building the pyramids. Interestingly enough, this would have been ancient history to the Pharaoh of the Old Testament (at least if he's supposed to be Ramses II).

https://www.livescience.com/32616-how-w ... uilt-.html also this link suggests that at least the workers were fed well? I've heard a lot of conflicting stories on the treatment of the pyramid-building workers, but I went with a sort of conscription scenario for dramatic effect.

I can see how the beginning might have been unclear. The second line is supposed to allude to the Nile River flooding and how dependent their life was on that, but I can see how it doesn't really get specific until the line about Pharaoh. Maybe I need more about the pyramids specifically too.

A lot of the other references are actually about the Egyptian view of the afterlife (source https://www.ancient.eu/article/877/egyp ... -of-reeds/). Basically, a soul would be judged by the gods, saying he hasn't sinned. Then his heart would be weighed against the Feather of Truth. If it balances (like with our narrator), his soul would cross over to the Field of Reeds to live a peaceful afterlife. If it is heavy (like with the Pharaoh), his heart will be devoured by the beast Ammut and his soul will cease to exist.

What I was trying to get across is that the Pharaoh, despite all of his preparation in having a fancy pyramid built and presumably knowing all the right words to say, ultimately he was judged like any other man and found lacking. I'll have to think about if there's another way to make it clearer.

Thanks again for the review! :D



Holysocks says...


Ohhh! Cool! That makes more sense c:




Find a place inside where there's joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.
— Joseph Campbell