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And would be all or nothing-nor could wait
For the sure grave to level him ; few years
Had fix'd him with the Cæsars in his fate,
On whom we tread : For this the conqueror rears
The arch of triumph! and for this the tears
And blood of earth flow on as they have flowed,
An universal deluge, which appears
Without an ark for wretched man's abode,
And ebbs but to reflow ?-Renew thy rainbow, God!
What from this barren being do we reap?
Our senses narrow, and our reason frail. (45)
Life short, and truth a gem which loves the deep,
And all things weigh'd in custom's falsest scale;
Opinion an omnipotence,--whose veil
Mantles the earth with darkness, until right
And wrong are accidents, and men grow pale
Lest their own judgments should become too bright,
And their free thoughts be crimes, and earth have too much
And thus they plod in sluggish misery,
Rotting from sire to son, and age to age,
Proud of their trampled nature, and so die,
Bequeathing their hereditary rage
To the new race of inborn slaves, who wage
War for their chains, and rather than be free,
Bleed gladiator-like, and still engage
Within the same arena where they see
Their fellows fall before, like leaves of the same tree.
I speak not of men's creeds--they rest between
Man and his Maker--but of things allowed,
Averr'd, and known,--and daily, hourly, seen
The yoke that is upon us doubly bowed,
And the intent of tyranny avowed,
The edict of earth's rulers, who are grown
The apes of him who humbled once the proud,
And shook them from their slumbers on the throne;
Too glorious, were this all his mighty arm had done.
Can tyrants but by tyrants conquered be,
And Freedom find no champion and no child
Such as Columbia saw arise when she
Sprung forth a Pallas, armed and undefiled?
Or must such minds be nourished in the wild,
Deep in the unpruned forest, 'midst the roar
Of cataracts, where nursing Nature smiled
On infant Washington ? Has Earth no more
Such seeds within her breast, or Europe no such shore ?
But France got drunk with blood to vomit crime,
And fatal have her Saturnalia been
To Freedom's cause, in every age and clime;
Because the deadly days which we have seen,
And vile Ambition, that built up between
Man and his hopes an adamantine wall,
And the base pageant last upon the scene,
Are grown the pretext for the eternal thrall
Which nips life's tree, and dooms man's worst-his
Yet, Freedom! yet thy banner, torn, but flying,
Streams like the thunder-storm against the wind;
Thy trumpet voice, though broken now and dying,
The loudest still the tempest leaves behind;
Thy tree hath lost its blossoms, and the rind,
Chopp'd by the axe, looks rough and little worth,
But the sap lasts,--and still the seed we find
Sown deep, even in the bosom of the North ;
So shall a better spring less bitter fruit bring forth.
There is a stern round tower of other days, (46)
Firm as a fortress, with its fence of stone,
Such as an army's baffled strength delays,
Standing with half its battlements alone,
And with two thousand years of ivy grown,
The garland of eternity, where wave
The green leaves over all by time o'erthrown ;-
What was this tower of strength ? within its cave
What treasure lay so lock’d, so hid?--A woman's grave.
C. But who was she, the lady of the dead, Tombed in a palace ? Was she chaste and fair ? Worthy a king's- 5-or more-a Roman's bed? What race of chiefs and heroes did she bear? What daughter of her beauties was the heir ? How lived how loved-how died she? Was she not So honoured and conspicuously there,
Where meaner relics must not dare to rot,
Placed to commemorate a more than mortal lot?
Was she as those who love their lords, or they
Who love the lords of others? such have been,
Even in the olden time Rome's annals say.
Was she a matron of Cornelia's mien,
Or the light air of Egypt's graceful queen,
Profuse of joy or 'gainst it did she war,
Inveterate in virtue? Did she lean
To the soft side of the heart, or wisely bar
Love from amongst her griefs ? for such the affections are.
Perchance she died in youth : it may be, bowed
With woes far heavier than the ponderous tomb
That weighed upon her gentle dust, a cloud
Might gather o'er her beauty, and a gloom
In her dark eye, prophetic of the doom
Heaven gives its favourite-early death; yet shed (47)
A sunset charm around her, and illume
With hectic light, the Hesperus of the dead,
Of her consuming cheek the autumnal leaf-like red.
Perchance she died in age--surviving all,
Charms, kindred, children with the silver grey
On her tresses, which might yet recal,
It may be, still a something of the day
When they were braided, and her proud array
And lovely form were envied, praised, and eyed
By Rome-But whither would Conjecture stray ?
Thus much alone we know-Metella died,
The wealthiest Roman's wife; Behold his love or pride!
I know not why but standing thus by thee
It seems as if I had thine inmate know,
Thou tomb! and other days come back on me
With recollected music though the tone,
Is changed and solemn, like the cloudy groan
Of dying thunder on the distant wind;
Yet could I seat me by this ivied stone
Till I had bodied forth the heated mind
Forms from the floating wreck which Ruin leaves behind ;;
And from the planks, far shattered o'er the rocks,
Built me a little bark of hope once more
To battle with the ocean and the shocks
Of the loud breakers, and the ceaseless roar
Which rushes on the solitary shore
Where all lies foundered that was ever dear;
But could I gather from the wave-worn store
Enough for my rude boat, where should I steer?
There woos no home, nor hope, nor life, save what is here.
Then let thy winds howl on! their harmony
Shall henceforth be my music, and the night
The sound shall temper with the owlet's cry,
As I now here them, in the fading light
Dim o'er the bird of darkness' native site,
Answering each other on the Palatine,
With their large eyes, all glistening grey and bright,
And sailing pinions—Upon such a shrine
What are our petty griefs?-- let me not number mine,
Cypress and ivy, weed and wall-filower grown
Matted and mass'd together, hillocks heap'd
On what were chambers, arch crush'd, column strown
In fragments, chok'd up vaults, and frescos steep'd
In subterranean damps, where the owl peep'd,
Deeming it midnight ;-Temples, baths of halls ?
Pronounce who can; for all that learning reap'd
From her research hath been, that these are wallsBehold the Imperial Hlount! 'tis thus the mighty falls,
There is the mortal of all human tales ; (48)
'Tis but the same rehearsal of the past,
First Freedom, and then Glory-when that fails,
Wealth, vice, corruption,-barbarism at last.
And History, with all her volumes vast,
Hath but one page,—'tis better written here,
Tyranny had thus amass'd
All treasures, all delight, that eye or ear, [near,
Heart, soul could seek, tongue ask-Away with words ! draw
Admire, exult---despise-laugh, weep,—for here
There is much matter for all feeling :-Man!
Thou pendulum betwixt a smile and tear,
Ages and realms are crowded in this span,
This mountain, whose obliterated plan,
The pyramid of empires pinnacled,
Of Glory's gewgaws shining in the van
Till the sun's rays with added flame were fill'd!
Where are its golden roofs ? where those who dared to build.
Tully was not so eloquent as thou,
Thou nameless column with the buried base!
What are the laurels of the Cæsar's brow!
Crown me with ivy from his dwelling-place.
Whose arch or pillar
meets me in the face, Titus or Trajan's ? No-'Tis that of Time; Triumph, arch, pillar, all he doth displace
Scoffing; and apostolic statues climb
To crush the imperial urn, whose ashes slept sublime, (49)
Buried in air, the deep blue sky of Rome,
And looking to the stars; they had contain'd
A spirit which with these would find a home,
The last of those who o'er the whole earth reign'd,
The Roman globe, for after none sustain'd,
But yielded back his conquest ;-- he was more
Than a mere Alexander, and sustain'd
With household blood and wine, serenely wore
His sovereign yirtues--still we Trajan's name adore. (50)