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A ruin—yet what ruin! from its mass
Walls, palaces, half-cities, have been reard;
Yet oft the enormous skeleton ye pass
And marvel where the spoil could have appear’d.
Hath it indeed been plunder'd, or but clear’d?
Alas! developed, opens the decay,
When the colossal fabric's form is near'd :
It will not bear the brightness of the day,
Which streams too much on all years, man,
years, man, have reft away.
But when the rising moon begins to climb
Its topmost arch, and gently pauses there;
When the stars twinkle through the loops of time,
And the low night breeze waves along the air
The garland-forest, which the gray walls wear,
Like Jaurels on the bald first Cæsar's head; 62
When the light shines serene but doth not glare,
Then in this magic circle raise the dead :
Heroes have trod this spot—'t is on their dust ye
« While stands the Coliseum, Rome shall stand; 63
When falls the Coliseum, Rome shall fall;
And when Rome falls—the world.» From our own land
Thus spake the pilgrims o'er this mighty wall
In Saxon times, which we are wont to call
Ancient; and these three mortal things are still
On their foundations, and unalter'd all;
Rome and her ruin past redemption's skill,
The world, the same wide den-of thieves, or what
Simple, erect, severe, austere, sublime-
Shrine of all saints and temple of all gods,
From Jove to Jesus—spared and blest by time;
Looking tranquillity, while falls or nods
Arch, empire, each thing round thee, and man plods
His way through thorns to ashes-glorious dome!
Shalt thou not last? Time's scythe and tyrants' rods
upon thee--sanctuary and home Of art and piety-Pantheon! pride of Rome!
Relic of nobler days, and noblest arts !
Despoil'd yet perfect, with thy circle spreads
A boliness appealing to all hearts-
To art a model: and to him who treads
Rome for the sake of ages, glory sheds
Her light through thy sole aperture; to those
Who worship, here are altars for their beads;
And they who feel for genius may repose
Theireyeson honour'd forms, whose busts around them close.65
There is a dungeon, in whose dim drear light 66
What do I gaze on? Nothing: look again!
Two forms are slowly shadow'd on my sight-
Two insulated phantoms of the brain :
It is not so; I see them full and plain-
An old man, and a female young and fair,
Fresh as a nursing mother, in whose vein
The blood is nectar:--but what doth she there,
With her unmantled neck, and bosom white and bare?
Full swells the deep pure fountain of young life,
Where on the heart and from the heart we took
Our first and sweetest nurture, when the wife,
Blest into mother, in the innocent look,
Or even the piping cry of lips that brook
No pain and small suspense, a joy perceives
Man knows not, when from out its cradled nook
She sees her little bud put forth its leaves-
What may the fruit be yet?-I know not-Cain was Eve's.
But here youth offers to old age
The milk of his own gift :-it is her sire
To whom she renders back the debt of blood
Born with her birth. No; he shall not expire
While in those warm and lovely veins the fire
Of health and holy feeling can provide
Great nature's Nile, whose deep stream rises higher
Than Egypt's river :—from that gentle side
Drink, drink and live, old man! Heaven's realm holds no such tide.
The starry fable of the milky way
Has not thy story's purity; it is
A constellation of a sweeter ray,
And sacred nature triumphs more in this
Reverse of her decree, than in the abyss
Where sparkle distant worlds :-Oh, holiest nurse!
No drop of that clear stream its way shall miss
To thy sire's heart, replenishing its source
With life, as our freed souls rejoin the universe.
Turn to the Mole which Hadrian rear'd on high, 67
Imperial mimic of old Egypt's piles,
Colossal copyist of deformity,
Whose travell’d phantasy froin the far Nile's
Cnormous model, doom'd the artist's toils
To build for giants, and for his vain earth
Ilis shrunken ashes raise this dome: how smiles
The gazer's eye with philosophic mirth,
To view the huge design which sprung from such a birth!
But lo! the dome—the vast and wondrous dome, 68
To which Diana's marvel was a cell
Christ's mighty shrine above his martyr's tomb!
I have beheld the Ephesian's miracle-
Its columns strew the wilderness, and dwell
The hyæna and the jackal in their shade;
I have beheld Sophia's bright roofs swell
Their glittering mass i’ the sun, and have survey'd
Its sanctuary the while the usurping Moslem pray’d;
But thou, of temples old, or altars new,
Standest alone—with nothing like to thee-
Worthiest of god, the holy and the true.
Since Zion's desolation, when that He
Forsook bis former city, what could be,
Of earthly structures, in his honour piled,
Of a sublimer aspect? Majesty,
Power, glory, strength, and beauty, all are aisled
In this eternal ark of worship undefiled.
Enter: its grandeur overwhelms thee not;
And why? it is not lessen'd; but thy mind,
Expanded by the genius of the spot,
Has grown colossal, and can only find
A fit abode wherein appear
Thy hopes of immortality; and thou
Shalt one day, if found worthy, so defined,
See thy God face to face, as thou dost now His Holy of Holies, nor be blasted by his brow.
Thou movest—but increasing with the advance,
Like climbing some great Alp, which still doth rise,
Deceived by its gigantic elegance;
Vastness which grows—but grows to harmonize-
All musical in its immensities;
Rich marbles-richer painting-shrines where flame
The lamps of gold—and haughty doine which vies
In air with earth's chief structures, though their frame Sits on the firm-set ground-and this the clouds must claim.
Thou seest not all; but piecemeal thou must break,
To separate contemplation, the great whole;
And as the ocean many bays will make,
That ask the eye-so here condense thy soul
To more immediate objects, and control
Thy thoughts until thy mind hath got by heart
its eloquent proportions, and unroll
In mighty graduations, part by part,
The glory which at once upon thee did not dart,