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

Rome, Ruins of

Ruins of Rome

By Nicholas Michell (1807–1880)

(From Ruins of Many Lands)

O ROME, whose steps of power were necks of kings!

Europe, the earth, beneath her eagle’s wings,

How, like a thing divine, she ruled the world!

Her finger lifted, thrones to dust were hurled:

High o’er her site the goddess Victory flew,

Mars waved his sword, and Fame her trumpet blew.

What is she now?—a widow with bowed head,

Her empire vanished, and her heroes dead;

Weeping she sits, a lone and dying thing,

Beneath the yew, and years no solace bring:

What is she now?—a dream of wonder past,

A tombless skeleton, dark, lone, and vast,

Whose heart of fire hath long, long ceased to burn,

Whose ribs of marble e’en to dust return.

Her shade alone, the ghost of ancient power,

Wanders in gloom o’er shrine and crumbling tower,

Points with its shadowy hand to Cæsar’s hall,

Sighs beneath arches tottering to their fall,

And glides down stately Tiber’s rushing waves,

That seem to wail through all their hoary caves.