There Are Two Minarets,
The Minaret Of The Bird, And A Larger One, Approached By A Big
Stairway Up Which, So My Dragoman Told Me, A Sultan Whose Name I Have
Forgotten Loved To Ride His Favorite Horse.
Upon the summit of this
minaret I stood for a long time, looking down over the city.
Grey it was that morning, almost as London is grey; but the sounds
that came up softly to my ears out of the mist were not the sounds of
London. Those many minarets, almost like columns of fog rising above
the cupolas, spoke to me of the East even upon this sad and sunless
morning. Once from where I was standing at the time appointed went
forth the call to prayer, and in the barren court beneath me there
were crowds of ardent worshippers. Stern men paced upon the huge
terrace just at my feet fingering their heads, and under that heavy
cupola were made the long ablutions of the faithful. But now no man
comes to this old place, no murmur to God disturbs the heavy silence.
And the silence, and the emptiness, and the greyness under the long
arcades, all seem to make a tremulous proclamation; all seem to
whisper, "I am very old, I am useless, I cumber the earth." Even the
mosque of Amru, which stands also on ground that looks gone to waste,
near dingy and squat houses built with grey bricks, seems less old
than this mosque of Ibn-Tulun.
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