Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Italy: Vols. XI–XIII. 1876–79.



By Lucan (39–65 A.D.)

(From Pharsalia)
Translated by Nicholas Rowe

O ROME! if slaughter be thy only care,

If such thy fond desire of impious war,

Turn from thyself, at least, the destined wound,

Till thou art mistress of the world around,

And none to conquer but thyself be found.

Thy foes as yet a juster war afford,

And barbarous blood remains to glut thy sword.

But see! her hands on her own vitals seize,

And no destruction but her own can please.

Behold her fields unknowing of the plough!

Behold her palaces and towers laid low!

See where o’erthrown the massy column lies,

While weeds obscene above the cornish rise.

Here, gaping wide, half-ruined walls remain;

There mouldering pillars nodding roots sustain.

The landskip once in various beauty spread,

With yellow harvests and the flowery mead,

Displays a wild, uncultivated face,

Which bushy brakes and brambles vile disgrace:

No human footstep prints the untrodden green,

No cheerful maid nor villager is seen.

Even in her cities famous once and great,

Where thousands crowded in the noisy street,

No sound is heard of human voices now,

But whistling winds through empty dwellings blow;

While passing strangers wonder, if they spy

One single melancholy face go by.

Nor Pyrrhus’ sword nor Cannæ’s fatal field

Such universal desolation yield:

Her impious sons have her worst foes surpassed,

And Roman hands have laid Hesperia waste.