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


The Amphitheatre at Pozzuoli

By Sir Henry Taylor (1800–1886)

THE STRIFE, the gushing blood, the mortal throe,

With scenic horrors filled that belt below,

And where the polished seats were round it raised,

Worse spectacle! the pleased spectators gazed.

Such were the pastimes of times past! O shame!

O infamy! that men who drew the breath

Of freedom, and who shared the Roman name,

Should so corrupt their sports with pain and death.

The pastimes of times past? And what are thine,

Thou with thy gun or greyhound, rod and line?

Pain, terror, mortal agonies, that scare

Thy heart in man, to brutes thou wilt not spare.

Are theirs less sad and real? Pain in man

Bears the high mission of the flail and fan.

In brutes ’t is purely piteous. God’s command,

Submitting his mute creatures to our hand

For life and death, thou shalt not dare to plead;

He bade thee kill them not for sport, but need.

Then backward if thou cast reproachful looks

On sports bedarkening custom erst allowed,

Expect from coming ages like rebukes

When day shall dawn on peacefuller woods and brooks,

And clear from vales thou troublest custom’s cloud.