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Like Water, Like Fire contains the following poem:

Where the Egyptian sands spread far around,
Close where the waves of azure Nile are flowing,
A tomb stood many thousands of years: men going
Within, some seeds hid in a jar where found.
Although the grains were parched and dried, still sound
Their vital force awoke, and, new life knowing,
Flourished abundantly, young ears were growing,
In spring the crop stood high above the ground.

Forgotten land of mine, this is your symbol;
At last thy people's spirit is atremble,
I believe it lies not in sterile sleep,
But that it will surge upward like a fountain,
Which, rushing in a mighty, sounding leap,
Pierces the soil, into free spaces mounting.

This seems to imply that something happened that the author anticipated would "wake people up from their slumber." What is the author referring to here?

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I think this is referring to the same cultural awakening that I explored in answer to your previous question.

in 1882, there was a general 'awakening' of cultural pride (and possibly there was a build up to that for the necessary couple of years before that to make it the round four decades referenced in the poem) driven by the intelligentsia and capturing a certain amount of popular support...

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