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PAGE 3

Ruines Of Rome: By Bellay
by [?]

XII.

Like as whilome the children of the earth
Heapt hils on hils to scale the starrie skie,
And fight against the gods of heavenly berth,
Whiles Iove at them his thunderbolts let flie;
All suddenly with lightning overthrowne,
The furious squadrons downe to ground did fall,
That th’earth under her childrens weight did grone,
And th’heavens in glorie triumpht over all;
So did that haughtie front, which heaped was
On these seven Romane hils, it selfe upreare
Over the world, and lift her loftie face
Against the heaven, that gan her force to feare.
But now these scorned fields bemone her fall,
And gods secure feare not her force at all.

XIII.

Nor the swift furie of the flames aspiring,
Nor the deep wounds of victours raging blade,
Nor ruthlesse spoyle of souldiers blood-desiring,
The which so oft thee, Rome, their conquest made,
Ne stroke on stroke of fortune variable,
Ne rust of age hating continuance,
Nor wrath of gods, nor spight of men unstable,
Nor thou oppos’d against thine owne puissance,
Nor th’horrible uprore of windes high blowing,
Nor swelling streames of that god snakie-paced*
Which hath so often with his overflowing
Thee drenched, have thy pride so much abaced,
But that this nothing, which they have thee left,
Makes the world wonder what they from thee reft.
[* Snakie-paced, winding; or perhaps (like Ovid’s anguipes) swift.]

XIV.

As men in summer fearles passe the foord
Which is in winter lord of all the plaine,
And with his tumbling streames doth beare aboord*
The ploughmans hope and shepheards labour vaine,
And as the coward beasts use to despise
The noble lion after his lives end,
Whetting their teeth, and with vaine foolhardise
Daring the foe that cannot him defend,
And as at Troy most dastards of the Greekes
Did brave about the corpes of Hector colde,
So those which whilome wont with pallid cheekes
The Romane triumphs glorie to behold,
Now on these ashie tombes shew boldnesse vaine,
And, conquer’d, dare the conquerour disdaine.
[*Aboord, into the current.]

XV.

Ye pallid spirits, and ye ashie ghoasts,
Which, ioying in the brightnes of your day,
Brought foorth those signes of your presumptuous boasts
Which now their dusty reliques do bewray,
Tell me, ye spirits! (sith the darksome river
Of Styx, not passable to soules returning,
Enclosing you in thrice three wards for ever,
Doo not restraine your images still mourning,)
Tell me then, (for perhaps some one of you
Yet here above him secretly doth hide,)
Doo ye not feele your torments to accrewe,
When ye sometimes behold the ruin’d pride
Of these old Romane works, built with your hands,
To become nought els but heaped sands?

XVI.

Like as ye see the wrathfull sea from farre
In a great mountaine heap’t with hideous noyse,
Eftsoones of thousand billowes shouldred narre*,
Against a rocke to breake with dreadfull poyse;
Like as ye see fell Boreas with sharpe blast
Tossing huge tempests through the troubled skie,
Eftsoones having his wide wings spent in wast,
To stop his wearie cariere** suddenly;
And as ye see huge flames spred diverslie,
Gathered in one up to the heavens to spyre,
Eftsoones consum’d to fall downe feebily,
So whilom did this monarchie aspyre
As waves, as winde, as fire, spred over all,
Till it by fatall doome adowne did fall.
[* Narre, nearer.]
[** Cariere, career.]

XVII.

So long as Ioves great bird did make his flight,
Bearing the fire with which heaven doth us fray,
Heaven had not feare of that presumptuous might,
With which the giaunts did the gods assay:
But all so soone as scortching sunne had brent*
His wings which wont the earth to overspredd,
The earth out of her massie wombe forth sent
That antique horror which made heaven adredd.
Then was the Germane raven in disguise
That Romane eagle seene to cleave asunder,
And towards heaven freshly to arise
Out of these mountaines, now consum’d to pouder.
In which the foule that serves to beare the lightning
Is now no more seen flying nor alighting.
[* Brent, burned.]