Down on the whole great waste of sand there rained
with gentle fall dilated flakes of fire,
like flakes of snow that fall on windless Alps.
As were the flames which Alexander saw
in India’s torrid regions, as they fell
upon his hosts, unbroken to the ground;
— and this he met, by ordering his troops
to trample on the soil, because the flames,
when single, were more easily put out —
even such descended here the eternal heat,
whereby the sand was set on fire, as tinder
is kindled under steel, to double pain.
And ever without resting was the dance
of wretched hands, that kept, now here, now there,
slapping away each latest burning flake.
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