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The seal is set.-Now welcome, thou dread power !
Nameless, yet thus omnipotent, which here
Walk'st in the shadow of the midnight hour
With a deep awe, yet all distinct from fear ;
Thy haunts are ever where the dead walls rear
Their ivy mantles, and the solemn scene
Derives from thee a sense so deep and clear
That we become a part of what has been,
And grow unto the spot, all-seeing but unseen.
And here the buzz of eager nations ran,
In murmur'd pity, or loud-roar'd applause,
As man was slaughter'd by his fellow man.
And wherefore slaughter'd ? wherefore, but because
Such were the bloody Circus' genial laws,
And the imperial pleasure.—Wherefore not ?
What matters where we fall to fill the maws
Of worms—on battle-plains or listed spot ?
Both are but theatres where the chief actors rot.
I see before me the Gladiator lie:
He leans upon his hand-his manly brow
Consents to death, but conquers agony,
And his droop'd head sinks gradually low-
And through his side the last drops, ebbing slow
From the red gash, fall heavy, one by one,
Like the first of a thunder-shower; and now
The arena swims around him—he is gone,
Ere ceased the inhuman shout which hail'd the wretch
He heard it, but he heeded not—his eyes
Were with his heart, and that was far away ;?
He reck'd not of the life he lost nor prize,
But where his rude hut by the Danube lay,
There were his young barbarians all at play,
There was their Dacian mother-he, their sire,
Butcher'd to make a Roman holiday-72
All this rushed with his blood—Shall he expire
And unavenged ? Arise! ye Goths, and glut your ire !
But here, where Murder breathed her bloody steam;
And here, where buzzing nations choked the ways,
And roar'd or murmur'd like a mountain stream
Dashing or winding as its torrent strays;
Here, where the Roman million's blame or praise
Was death or life, the playthings of a crowd, 13
My voice sounds much—and fall the stars' faint rays
On the arena void-seats crush'd—walls bow'dAnd galleries, where my steps seem echoes strangely
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, have reft
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 laurels on the bald first Cæsar's head ;74
When the light shines serene but doth not glare,
Then in this magic circle raise the dead :
Heroes have trod this spot—'tis on their dust ye
CXLV. “While stands the Coliseum, Rome shall stand ;75 “When falls the Coliseum, Rome shall fall; [land “ And when Rome falls--the World.” From our own 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 ye
Simple, erect, severe, austere, sublime-
Shrine of all saints and temple of all gods,
From Jove to Jesus—spared and blest by time ; 76
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 holiness 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
Their eyes on honour'd forms, whose busts around them
There is a dungeon, in whose dim drear light 78
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
But here youth offers to old age the food,
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,
Imperial mimic of old Egypt's piles,
Colossal copyist of deformity,
Whose travell’d phantasy from the far Nile's
Enormous model, doom'd the artist's toils
To build for giants, and for his vain earth,
His shrunken ashes, raise this dome: How smiles
The gazer's eye with philosophic mirth,
To view the huge design which sprung from such a