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Ruines Of Rome: By Bellay
by [?]


Such as the Berecynthian goddesse bright,
In her swifte charret with high turrets crownde,
Proud that so manie gods she brought to light,
Such was this citie in her good daies fownd:
This citie, more than that great Phrygian mother
Renowm’d for fruite of famous progenie,
Whose greatnes by the greatnes of none other,
But by her selfe, her equall match could see:
Rome onely might to Rome compared bee,
And onely Rome could make great Rome to tremble:
So did the gods by heavenly doome decree,
That other earthlie power should not resemble
Her that did match the whole earths puissaunce,
And did her courage to the heavens advaunce.


Ye sacred ruines, and ye tragick sights,
Which onely doo the name of Rome retaine,
Olde moniments, which of so famous sprights
The honour yet in ashes doo maintaine,
Triumphant arcks, spyres neighbours to the skie,
That you to see doth th’heaven it selfe appall,
Alas! by little ye to nothing flie,
The peoples fable, and the spoyle of all!
And though your frames do for a time make warre
Gainst Time, yet Time in time shall ruinate
Your workes and names, and your last reliques marre.
My sad desires, rest therefore moderate!
For if that Time make ende of things so sure,
It als will end the paine which I endure.


Through armes and vassals Rome the world subdu’d,
That one would weene that one sole cities strength
Both land and sea in roundnes had survew’d,
To be the measure of her bredth and length:
This peoples vertue yet so fruitfull was
Of vertuous nephewes*, that posteritie,
Striving in power their grandfathers to passe,
The lowest earth ioin’d to the heaven hie;
To th’end that, having all parts in their power,
Nought from the Romane Empire might be quight**;
And that though Time doth commonwealths devowre,
Yet no time should so low embase their hight,
That her head, earth’d in her foundations deep,
Should not her name and endles honour keep.
[* Nephewes, descendants.]
[** Quight, quit, free.]


Ye cruell starres, and eke ye gods unkinde,
Heaven envious, and bitter stepdame Nature!
Be it by fortune, or by course of kinde*,
That ye doo weld th’affaires of earthlie creature;
Why have your hands long sithence traveiled
To frame this world, that doth endure so long?
Or why were not these Romane palaces
Made of some matter no lesse firme and strong?
I say not, as the common voyce doth say,
That all things which beneath the moone have being
Are temporall and subiect to decay:
But I say rather, though not all agreeing
With some that weene the contrarie in thought,
That all this whole shall one day come to nought.
[* Kinde, nature.]


As that brave sonne of Aeson, which by charmes
Atcheiv’d the golden fleece in Colchid land,
Out of the earth engendred men of armes
Of dragons teeth, sowne in the sacred sand,
So this brave towne, that in her youthlie daies
An hydra was of warriours glorious,
Did fill with her renowmed nourslings praise
The firie sunnes both one and other hous:
But they at last, there being then not living
An Hercules so ranke seed to represse,
Emongst themselves with cruell furie striving,
Mow’d downe themselves with slaughter mercilesse;
Renewing in themselves that rage unkinde,
Which whilom did those earthborn brethren blinde.


Mars, shaming to have given so great head
To his off-spring, that mortall puissaunce,
Puft up with pride of Romane hardiehead,
Seem’d above heavens powre it selfe to advaunce,
Cooling againe his former kindled heate
With which he had those Romane spirits fild.
Did blowe new fire, and with enflamed breath
Into the Gothicke colde hot rage instil’d.
Then gan that nation, th’earths new giant brood,
To dart abroad the thunderbolts of warre,
And, beating downe these walls with furious mood
Into her mothers bosome, all did marre;
To th’end that none, all were it* love his sire,
Should boast himselfe of the Romane empire.
[* All were it, although it were.]