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Ruines Of Rome: By Bellay
by [?]


These heapes of stones, these old wals which ye see,
Were first enclosures but of salvage soyle;
And these brave pallaces, which maystred bee
Of time, were shepheards cottages somewhile.
Then tooke the shepheards kingly ornaments
And the stout hynde arm’d his right hand with steele:
Eftsoones their rule of yearely presidents
Grew great, and sixe months greater a great deele;
Which, made perpetuall, rose to so great might,
That thence th’imperiall eagle rooting tooke,
Till th’heaven it selfe, opposing gainst her might,
Her power to Peters successor betooke,
Who, shepheardlike, (as Fates the same foreseeing,)
Doth shew that all things turne to their first being.
[XVIII. 8.–Sixe months, etc. The term of the dictatorship at Rome.]


All that is perfect, which th’heaven beautefies;
All that’s imperfect, borne belowe the moone;
All that doth feede our spirits and our eies;
And all that doth consume our pleasures soone;
All the mishap the which our daies outweares;
All the good hap of th’oldest times afore,
Rome, in the time of her great ancesters,
Like a Pandora, locked long in store.
But destinie this huge chaos turmoyling,
In which all good and evill was enclosed,
Their heavenly vertues from these woes assoyling,
Caried to heaven, from sinfull bondage losed:
But their great sinnes, the causers of their paine,
Under these antique ruines yet remaine.


No otherwise than raynie cloud, first fed
With earthly vapours gathered in the ayre,
Eftsoones in compas arch’t, to steepe his hed,
Doth plonge himselfe in Tethys bosome faire,
And, mounting up againe from whence he came,
With his great bellie spreds the dimmed world,
Till at the last, dissolving his moist frame,
In raine, or snowe, or haile, he forth is horld,
This citie, which was first but shepheards shade,
Uprising by degrees, grewe to such height
That queene of land and sea her selfe she made.
At last, not able to beare so great weight,
Her power, disperst, through all the world did vade*;
To shew that all in th’end to nought shall fade.
[* Vade, vanish.]


The same which Pyrrhus and the puissaunce
Of Afrike could not tame, that same brave citie
Which, with stout courage arm’d against mischaunce,
Sustein’d the shocke of common enmitie,
Long as her ship, tost with so manie freakes,
Had all the world in armes against her bent,
Was never seene that anie fortunes wreakes
Could breake her course begun with brave intent.
But, when the obiect of her vertue failed,
Her power it selfe against it selfe did arme;
As he that having long in tempest sailed
Faine would arive, but cannot for the storme,
If too great winde against the port him drive,
Doth in the port it selfe his vessell rive.


When that brave honour of the Latine name,
Which mear’d* her rule with Africa and Byze**,
With Thames inhabitants of noble fame,
And they which see the dawning day arize,
Her nourslings did with mutinous uprore
Harten against her selfe, her conquer’d spoile,
Which she had wonne from all the world afore,
Of all the world was spoyl’d within a while:
So, when the compast course of the universe
In sixe and thirtie thousand yeares is ronne,
The bands of th’elements shall backe reverse
To their first discord, and be quite undonne;
The seedes of which all things at first were bred
Shall in great Chaos wombe againe be hid.
[* Mear’d, bounded.]
[** Byze, Byzantium.]


O warie wisedome of the man* that would
That Carthage towres from spoile should be forborne,
To th’end that his victorious people should
With cancring laisure not be overworne!
He well foresaw how that the Romane courage,
Impatient of pleasures faint desires,
Through idlenes would turne to civill rage,
And be her selfe the matter of her fires.
For in a people given all to ease,
Ambition is engendred easily;
As, in a vicious bodie, grose disease
Soone growes through humours superfluitie.
That came to passe, when, swolne with plenties pride,
Nor prince, nor peere, nor kin, they would abide.
[* I.e. Scipio Nasica.]