Page images

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 Cæsars, sleeping long in darke,
To 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 pencil 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 hie;
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 Dæmon
Doth yet himselfe with fatall hand enforce,
Againe on foot to reare her pouldred1 corse.


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,

XXVII. 12.

1 Pouldred, reduced to dust.

The Romaine Damon.] An expression equivalent to "the Genius of Rome."

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 whilome1 did devise ;
All that which Greece their temples to embrave,
After th' lonicke, 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.


Like as the seeded field greene grasse first showes,
Then from greene grasse into a stalke doth spring,
And from a stalke into an eare forth-growes,
Which eare the frutefull graine doth shortly bring;
And as in season due the husband mowes

The waving lockes of those faire yeallow heares,
Which bound in sheaves, and layd in comely rowes,
Upon the naked fields in stalkes he reares:
So grew the Romane Empire by degree,
Till that Barbarian hands it quite did spill,
And left of it but these olde markes to see,
Of which all passers by doo somewhat pill 2:
2 Pill, plunder.

1 Whilome, formerly.

As they, which gleane, the reliques use to gather,
Which th' husbandman behind him chanst to scater.


That same is now nought but a champian wide,
Where all this worlds pride once was situate.
No blame to thee, whosoever dost abide
By Nyle, or Gange, or Tygre, or Euphrate;
Ne Afrike thereof guiltie is, nor Spaine,
Nor the bolde people by the Thamis brincks,
Nor the brave warlicke brood of Alemaine,
Nor the borne souldier which Rhine running drinks:
Thou onely cause, O Civill Furie, art!
Which, sowing in th' Aemathian fields thy spight,
Didst arme thy hand against thy proper1 hart;
To th' end that when thou wast in greatest hight
To greatnes growne, through long prosperitie,
Thou then adowne might'st fall more horriblie.

Hope ye, my Verses, that posteritie

Of age ensuing shall you ever read?

Hope ye, that ever immortalitie

So meane Harpes worke may chalenge for her meed?

If under heaven anie endurance were,

These moniments, which not in paper writ,
But in porphyre and marble doo appeare,
Might well have hop'd to have obtained it.
Nath'les my Lute, whom Phoebus deignd to give,
Cease not to sound these olde antiquities:

1 Proper, own.

XXXI. 7.-Alemaine.] Germany.

XXXI. 10.-Aemathian fields.] Thessalian fields; alluding to the battle fought at Pharsalia, in Thessaly, between Cæsar and Pompey.

For if that Time doo let thy glorie live,

Well maist thou boast, how ever base thou bee,
That thou art first, which of thy Nation song
Th' olde honour of the people gowned long.


Bellay, first garland of free Poësie

That France brought forth, though fruitfull of brave wits,

Well worthie thou of immortalitie,

That long hast traveld,1 by thy learned writs,

Olde Rome out of her ashes to revive,

And give a second life to dead decayes!
Needes must he all eternitie survive,
That can to other give eternall dayes:
Thy dayes therefore are endles, and thy prayse
Excelling all, that ever went before.
And, after thee, gins Bartas hie to rayse
His heavenly Muse, th' Almightie to adore.
Live, happie spirits, th' honour of your name,
And fill the world with never dying fame!

1 Trareld, travailed, toiled.

L'Envoy, 11. — Bartas.] Guillaume de Saluste du Bartas, a French poet of the time of Henry IV., of extraordinary popularity in his day. His poem on the Creation went through thirty editions in six years, and was translated into several languages; among others, into English by Joshua Sylvester.

« PreviousContinue »