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Pompeii And Herculaneum
by [?]


What wonder this?–we ask the lympid well,
O earth! of thee–and from thy solemn womb
What yieldest thou?–is there life in the abyss–
Doth a new race beneath the lava dwell?
Returns the past, awakening from the tomb?
Rome–Greece!–Oh, come!–Behold–behold! for this!
Our living world–the old Pompeii sees;
And built anew the town of Dorian Hercules!
House upon house–its silent halls once more
Opes the broad portico!–Oh, haste and fill
Again those halls with life!–Oh, pour along
Through the seven-vista’d theatre the throng!
Where are ye, mimes?–Come forth, the steel prepare
For crowned Atrides, or Orestes haunt,
Ye choral Furies, with your dismal chant!
The arch of triumph!–whither leads it?–still
Behold the forum!–on the curule chair
Where the majestic image? Lictors, where
Your solemn fasces?–Place upon his throne
The Praetor–here the witness lead, and there
Bid the accuser stand

–O God! how lone
The clear streets glitter in the quiet day–
The footpath by the doors winding its lifeless way!
The roofs arise in shelter, and around
The desolate Atrium–every gentle room
Wears still the dear familiar smile of home!
Open the doors–the shops–on dreary night
Let lusty day laugh down in jocund light!

See the trim benches ranged in order!–See
The marble-tesselated floor–and there
The very walls are glittering livingly
With their clear colors. But the artist, where!
Sure but this instant he hath laid aside
Pencil and colors!–Glittering on the eye
Swell the rich fruits, and bloom the flowers!–See all
Art’s gentle wreaths still fresh upon the wall!
Here the arch Cupid slyly seems to glide
By with bloom-laden basket. There the shapes
Of genii press with purpling feet the grapes,
Here springs the wild Bacchante to the dance,
And there she sleeps [while that voluptuous trance
Eyes the sly faun with never-sated glance]
Now on one knee upon the centaur-steeds
Hovering–the Thyrsus plies.–Hurrah!–away she speeds!

Come–come, why loiter ye?–Here, here, how fair
The goodly vessels still! Girls, hither turn,
Fill from the fountain the Etruscan urn!
On the winged sphinxes see the tripod.–
Ho!
Quick–quick, ye slaves, come–fire!–the hearth prepare!
Ha! wilt thou sell?–this coin shall pay thee–this,
Fresh from the mint of mighty Titus!–Lo!
Here lie the scales, and not a weight we miss
So–bring the light! The delicate lamp!–what toil
Shaped thy minutest grace!–quick pour the oil!
Yonder the fairy chest!–come, maid, behold
The bridegroom’s gifts–the armlets–they are gold,
And paste out-feigning jewels!–lead the bride
Into the odorous bath–lo! unguents still–
And still the crystal vase the arts for beauty fill!

But where the men of old–perchance a prize
More precious yet in yon papyrus lies,
And see ev’n still the tokens of their toil–
The waxen tablets–the recording style.
The earth, with faithful watch, has hoarded all!
Still stand the mute penates in the hall;
Back to his haunts returns each ancient god.
Why absent only from their ancient stand
The priests?–waves Hermes his Caducean rod,
And the winged victory struggles from the hand.
Kindle the flame–behold the altar there!
Long hath the god been worshipless–to prayer.