Poems and Extracts/The Ruins of Rome
The Ruins of Rome
Fallen, fallen, a silent heap!
Behold the pride of pomp,
The throne of nations, fall'n! obscured in dust;
Even yet niajestical: the solemn scene
Elates the soul, while now the rising sun
Flames on the ruins in the purer air
Towering aloft upon the glittering plain.
Like broken rocks, a vast circumference!
Rent palaces, crushed columns, rifled moles.
Fanes roll'd on fanes, and tombs on buried tombs!
Deep lies in dust the Theban obelisk11
Immense along the waste; minuter art,
Gliconian forms, or Phidian, subtly fair,
0'erwhelming; as the vast leviathan
The finny brood, when near Irene's shore
Outstretchd unwieldy, his island length appears
Above the foamy flood. Globose and huge,
Gray-mouldering temples swell, and wide o'ercast
The solitary landscape, hills and woods,
And boundless wilds; while the vine-mantled brows
The pendant goats unveil, regardless they21
Of hourly peril, though the clefted domes
Tremble to every wind. The pilgrim oft,
At dead of night, mid his orisons hears
Aghast, the voice of time-disparting towers,
While murmurs sooth each awful interval
Of ever-falling waters ; shrouded Nile,
Eridanus, and Tiber with his twins.
And palmy Euphrates; who with dropping locks
Hang o'er their urns, and mournfully among30
The plaintive-echoing ruins pour their streams.
From dust again to dust. Behold that heap
Of mould'ring urns (their ashes blown away,
Dust of the mighty) the same story tell;
And at its base, from whence the serpent glides
Down the green desart street, yon' hoary monk
Laments the same, the vision as he views
The solitary, silent, solemn scene,
Where Caesars, heroes, peasants, hermits, lie,40
Blended in dust together; where the slave
Rests from his labours; where the insulting proud
Resigns his power; the miser drops his hoard;
Where human folly sleeps.—There is a mood,
(I sing not to the vacant and the young)
There is a kindly mood of melancholy
That wings the soul, and points her to the skies;
When tribulation clothes the child of man.
When age descends with sorrow to the grave,
'Tis sweetly-soothing sympathy to pain,50
A gently-wak'ning call to health and ease.
How musical, when all-composing Time,
Here sits upon his throne of ruins hoar
While Avinds and tempests sweep his various lyre,
How sweet the diapason ! . . . .