In Egypt Rhodope was born,
And lived afar from king and court;
No jewels did the maid adorn;
She crowned herself with flowers in sport.

Her hair was like a summer night,
Her eyes like stars that twinkle low,
Her voice like soft winds in their flight,
When through the tremulous leaves they blow.

She dwelt beside the sacred Nile,
And in its waters every day,
With but the sun to gaze and smile,
Like any nymph was wont to play.

While in the limpid stream she played
One day, an eagle cleft the blue,
And, hovering o'er the sporting maid,
Upon the bank espied her shoe.

Loth to forget so sweet a sight,
And lest his memory should grow dim,
He sought the earth with sudden flight,
And bore the shoe aloft with him.

He bore it far, and let it fall
In the king's palace, where next day
So lily-frail, so strangely small,
Within the palace-court it lay.

The king was walking, wrapped in thought,
Throughout his palace, up and down:
Him had his councillors besought,
With some fair maid to share his crown,

And he had searched the wide world through
To find a princess he could love,
Yet all in vain he sought to woo,
His heart there was not one could move.

Into the palace-court he went,
Still wondering whom to make his bride,
And as he strolled, eyes earthward bent,
The wondrous tiny shoe he spied.

As leaps the sun to tropic skies,
So sprang his heart unto its choice,
Love sparkled brightly in his eyes,
And thrilled triumphant in his voice.

“You bid me wed, I could not do,
For lack of love, your bidding, Sirs.
But find the maid who wore this shoe,
And I will make my kingdom hers.”

They searched the palace from the ground
Up to the towers, but in vain;
Nowhere was maiden to be found
To own the shoe and share the reign.

Then came a lad, who told in awe
How just at dawn an eagle flew
Above the town, and from its claw
Dropped to the palace-yard the shoe.

The wise men stroked their beards, and said:
“The gods have surely done this thing,
That our beloved lord may wed
A maiden meet for such a king.”

Then far and wide the heralds rode
To find the king's God-chosen bride;
They chanced on Rhodope's abode,
The overflowing Nile beside.

She stood before the heralds twain,
She fitted on the tiny shoe,
And claimed it for her own again,
And not till then their errand knew.

The richest robes they offered her,
But she refused them: “If my king
In my coarse garb, will deem me fair,
Then only will I take his ring.”

Before the king the maid they brought,
And at his feet she bent the knee;
He gently raised her: “Nay, kneel not,
O sweetheart! I should kneel to thee,

“Fair as a poet's dream thou art,
Purer than lilies-Oh! mine own,
Since thou has won thy monarch's heart,
'Tis meet that thou shouldst share his throne.”

The wise men stroked their beards and said:
“The gods have surely done this thing.”
Then Rhodope the fair was wed,
And ruled all Egypt with the king.