The Passage of the Red Sea

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First page of the manuscript (14 november 1873)

The Passage of the Red Sea is a poem written by Arthur Conan Doyle on 14 november 1873 and published in a Stonyhurst College magazine called The Wasp in november 1873.

The Passage of the Red Sea

Page of The Wasp (november 1873). On the verso is written: "For Aunt Annette with Arthur's Love".

Like to white daisies in a blooming wood,
To round the sea the tents of Israel stood ;
To east and west, as far as eye could reach,
The thronging crowds are seen along the beach.
What host is this? Is it some savage band
That bears destruction to a distant land?
Is it some patriot army come to fight-
To save their honour, and their nation's right ?
No army this. These girls who throng the plain,
Would they e'er follow in an army's train ?
Behold these aged men, are their grey locks
Fitted for war? Hark to the bleating flocks !-
'Tis but a nomad tribe who seek in flight
Relief from bondage, and from Pharaoh's might.
But lo! what shouts are these? What horrid sound
Which fills the air, and seems to shake the ground ?
High on the summit of a mountain crest,
Hard by, a cloud of dust is seen to rest ;
And higher still above the dust appears
The sheen of armour, and the gleam of spears !
And further off are heard the deafening peals
Of bugles, and the rush of chariot wheels;
In Israel's camp is frenzy and despair;
The women rave and tear their flowing hair;
The men by grief and disappointment cowed,
Around the standard of their leader crowd.
Then Moses spake: - "Behold my wondrous rod-
Think what its power has wrought, and think on God ;
And say if He, the mighty God who boasts
To be the Lord of lords, and King of Hosts,
Cannot, although so mighty and so sage,
Free us from Egypt and from Pharaoh's rage."
He spake, and by the shore he took his stand,
And o'er the waters thrice he shook his wand.
Wonder of wonders! lo, the waves divide
And stand in dark green walls on either side !
Right through the midst the roaring sea is reft,
A slippery dismal weedy way is left!
There was no time for thought, no time for fear,
For Egypt's horse already pressed their rear.
On, on, they rush right through the sea, and reach,
Fatigued and tired, the rough opposing beach.
Then back they look and see their daring foe
Still pressing through the yawning gulf below.
Once more did Moses shake his awful wand,
To his command the foaming waves respond.
One horrid shriek! - the tragedy is o'er,
And Pharaoh and his army were no more.

aged 14