« AnteriorContinuar »
The Niobe of nations ! there she stands,
Childless and crownless, in her voiceless woe;
An empty urn within her withered hands,
Whose holy dust was scatter'd long ago;
The Scipios' tomb contains no ashes now; 38
The very sepulchres lie tenantless
Of their heroic dwellers : dost thou flow,
· Old Tiber! through a marble wilderness ?
Rise, with thy yellow waves, and mantle her distress !
LXX X. The Goth, the Christian, Time, War, Flood, and Fire , Have dealt upon the seven-hill'd city's pride ; She saw her glories star by star expire, And up the steep barbarian monarchs ride, . Where the car climb'd the capitol ; far and wide Temple and Tower went down, nor left a site :--Chaos of ruins ! who shall trace the void,
O’er the dim fragments cast a lunar light,
And say, « here was, or is » where all is doubly night?
The double night of ages, and of her,
Night's daughter, Ignorance, hath wrapt and wrap
All round us, we but feel our way to err :
The ocean hath his chart, the stars their map,
And Knowledge spreads them on her ample lap;
But Rome is as the desert, where we steep
Slumbling o'er recollections; now we clap
Our hands, and cry « Eureka » it is clear
When but some false MĮRAGE of ruin, rises near.
Alas ! the lofty city! and alas !
The trebly hundred triumphs! 39 and the day
When Brutus made the dagger's edge surpass
The conqueror's sword in bearing fame away!
Alas, for Tully's voice, and Virgil's lay,
And Livy's pictur'd page !--but these shall be
Her resurrection; all beside-decay,
Alas, for Earth, for never shall we see
That brightness in her eye, she bore when Rome was free!
Oh thou , whose chariot rolld on Fortune's wheel, 40
Triumphant Sylla! Thou, who didst subdue
Thy country's foes ere thou would pause to feel
The wrath of thy own wrongs, or reap the due
Of hoarded vengeance till thine eagles flew
O’er prostrate Asia ;-thou, who with thy frown
Annihilated senatesRoman , too,
With all thy vices, for thou didst lay down
With an atoning smile, a more than earthly crown-
The dictatorial wreath, -couldst thou divine
To what would one day dwindle that which made
Thee more than mortal? and that so supine
By aught than Romans, Rome should thus be laid ?
She who was named Eternal, and array'd
Her warriors but to conquer-she who veil’d
Earth with her haughty shadow, and display'd,
Until the o'er-canopied horizon faild,
Her rushing wings-Oh! she who was Almighty hail'd!
Sylla was first of victors; but our own
The sagest of usurpers , Cromwell; he
Too swept off senates while he hewed the throne
Down to a block-immortal rebel! See
What crimes it costs to be a moment free
And famous through all ages ! but beneath
His fate the moral lurks of destiny;
His day of double victory and death
Beheld him win two realms, and, happier, yield his breath.
The third of the same moon whose former course
Had all but crown'd him, on the selfsame day
Deposed him gently from his throne of force,
And laid bim with the earth’s preceding clay , 41
And show'd not Fortune thus how fame and sway,
And all we deem delightful , and consume
Our souls to compass through each arduous way,
Are in her eyes less happy than the tomb ?
Were they but so in man's, how different were his doom!
And thou , dread statue! yet existent in 42
The austerest form of naked majesty, .
Thou who beheldest, ʼmid the assassins' din,
At thy bath'd base the bloody Cæsar lie ,
Folding his-robe in dying dignity,
An offering to thine altar from the queen
Of gods and men , great Nemesis ! did he die ,
And thou, too, perish, Pompey? have ye been.
Victors of countless kings, or puppets of a scene ?
And thou , the thunder-ştricken nurse of Rome! 43
She-wolf! whose brazen-imaged dugs impart
Tlie milk of conquest yet within the dome
Where, as a monument of antique art,
Thoų standest : Mother of the mighty heart,
Which the great founder suck'd from thy wild teat.
Scorch'd by the Roman Jove's etherial dart,
And thy limbs black with lightning-dost thou yet Guard thine immortal cubs, nor thy fond charge forget?
Thou dost;—but all thy foster-babes are dead-
The men of iron ; and the world hath rear'd
Cities from out their sepulchres : men bled
In imitation of the things they feard ,
And fought and conquer'd , and the same course steerd,
At apish di tince; but as yet none have ,
Nor could , the same supremacy have near'd ,
Save one vain man , who is not in the grave,
But, vanquish'd by himself, to his own slaves, a slave-
The fool of false dominion—and a kind
Of bastard Cæsar, following him of old
With steps unequal; for the Roman's mind
Was modell’d in a less terrestrial mould , 44
With passions fiercer, yet a judgment cold,
And an immortal instinct which redeem'd
The frailties of a heart so soft, yet bold ,
Alcides with the distaff now he seem'd
At Cleopatra's feet , -and now himself he beam'd,
AND CAME—AND SAW —AND CONQUER'D! But the man
Who would have tamed his eagles down to flee,
Like a train’d falcon, in the Gallic van,
Which hè in sooth, long led to victory,
With a deaf heart which never seem'd to be
A listener to itself, was strangely fram’d;
With but one weakest, weakness—vanity,
Coquettish in ambition-still he aim'd-
At what ? can he arouch-or answer what he claim'd' ?
And would be all, or nothing-nor could wait
For the sure grave to level him; few years