Her marts are heaped with merchandise,
Such as the gorgeous East supplies ;
Buyers and sellers throng her gates.
And at her feet a navy waits.
But now half-silent are her streets.
So fearfully the noontide beats
On the white arches, whose fierce glare
Scorches the eye ; the burning air
Is choked with sand the Khamseen * brings
Upon its swift and dreadful wings.
Within their halls the rich repose,
Their vacant shops the salesmen close.
But the poor hammal † bendeth still
Beneath his load ; the sakkas ‡ fill
* Khamseen — from khamsoon, fifty — is the name usually given to a
strong south wind which blows throughout northern Africa, and especially
in the valley of the Nile, at intervals through a period of about fifty days
in the months of April, May, and June.
† Hammal, the Arabic word for porter ; a very important class of
laborers in Oriental cities, where wheel-carriages are not used.
‡ Sakka, a water-carrier. See Appendix III.