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Ruines Of Rome: By Bellay
by [?]


If the blinde Furie which warres breedeth oft
Wonts not t’enrage the hearts of equall beasts,
Whether they fare on foote, or flie aloft,
Or armed be with clawes, or scalie creasts,
What fell Erynnis, with hot burning tongs,
Did grype your hearts with noysome rage imbew’d,
That, each to other working cruell wrongs,
Your blades in your owne bowels you embrew’d?
Was this, ye Romanes, your hard destinie?
Or some old sinne, whose unappeased guilt
Powr’d vengeance forth on you eternallie?
Or brothers blood, the which at first was spilt
Upon your walls, that God might not endure
Upon the same to set foundation sure?


O that I had the Thracian poets harpe,
For to awake out of th’infernall shade
Those antique Caesars, sleeping long in darke,
The which this auncient citie whilome made!
Or that I had Amphions instrument,
To quicken with his vitall notes accord
The stonie ioynts of these old walls now rent,
By which th’Ausonian light might be restor’d!
Or that at least I could with pencill fine
Fashion the pourtraicts of these palacis,
By paterne of great Virgils spirit divine!
I would assay with that which in me is
To builde, with levell of my loftie style,
That which no hands can evermore compyle.


Who list the Romane greatnes forth to figure,
Him needeth not to seeke for usage right
Of line, or lead, or rule, or squaire, to measure
Her length, her breadth, her deepnes, or her hight;
But him behooves to vew in compasse round
All that the ocean graspes in his long armes;
Be it where the yerely starre doth scortch the ground,
Or where colde Boreas blowes his bitter stormes.
Rome was th’whole world, and al the world was Rome;
And if things nam’d their names doo equalize,
When land and sea ye name, then name ye Rome,
And, naming Rome, ye land and sea comprize:
For th’auncient plot of Rome, displayed plaine,
The map of all the wide world doth containe.


Thou that at Rome astonisht dost behold
The antique pride which menaced the skie,
These haughtie heapes, these palaces of olde,
These wals, these arcks, these baths, these temples his,
Iudge, by these ample ruines vew, the rest
The which iniurious time hath quite outworne,
Since, of all workmen helde in reckning best,
Yet these olde fragments are for paternes borne:
Then also marke how Rome, from day to day,
Repayring her decayed fashion,
Renewes herselfe with buildings rich and gay;
That one would iudge that the Romaine Daemon*
Doth yet himselfe with fatall hand enforce
Againe on foot to reare her pouldred** corse.
[* Romaine Daemon, Genius of Rome.]
[** Pouldred, reduced to dust.]


He that hath seene a great oke drie and dead,
Yet clad with reliques of some trophees olde,
Lifting to heaven her aged hoarie head,
Whose foote in ground hath left but feeble holde,
But halfe disbowel’d lies above the ground,
Shewing her wreathed rootes, and naked armes,
And on her trunke all rotten and unsound
Onely supports herselfe for meate of wormes,
And, though she owe her fall to the first winde,
Yet of the devout people is ador’d,
And manie yong plants spring out of her rinde;
Who such an oke hath seene, let him record
That such this cities honour was of yore,
And mongst all cities florished much more.


All that which Aegypt whilome did devise,
All that which Greece their temples to embrave,
After th’Ionicke, Atticke, Doricke guise,
Or Corinth skil’d in curious workes to grave,
All that Lysippus practike* arte could forme,
Apelles wit, or Phidias his skill,
Was wont this auncient citie to adorne,
And the heaven it selfe with her wide wonders fill.
All that which Athens ever brought forth wise,
All that which Afrike ever brought forth strange,
All that which Asie ever had of prise,
Was here to see. O mervelous great change!
Rome, living, was the worlds sole ornament;
And, dead, is now the worlds sole moniment.
[* Practike, cunning.]