Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > Italy
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Italy: Vols. XI–XIII.  1876–79.
 
Rome, Ruins of
The Coliseum
Lord Byron (1788–1824)
 
(From Manfred)

I DO remember me, that in my youth,
When I was wandering,—upon such a night
I stood within the Coliseum’s wall,
Midst the chief relics of almighty Rome;
The trees which grew along the broken arches        5
Waved dark in the blue midnight, and the stars
Shone through the rents of ruin; from afar
The watch-dog bayed beyond the Tiber; and
More near from out the Cæsar’s palace came
The owl’s long cry, and interruptedly,        10
Of distant sentinels the fitful song
Begun and died upon the gentle wind.
Some cypresses beyond the time-worn breach
Appeared to skirt the horizon, yet they stood
Within a bow-shot. Where the Cæsars dwelt,        15
And dwell the tuneless birds of night, amidst
A grove which springs through levelled battlements,
And twines its roots with the imperial hearths,
Ivy usurps the laurel’s place of growth;
But the gladiators’ bloody circus stands,        20
A noble wreck in ruinous perfection!
While Cæsar’s chambers and the Augustan halls
Grovel on earth in indistinct decay.
And thou didst shine, thou rolling moon, upon
All this, and cast a wide and tender light,        25
Which softened down the hoar austerity
Of rugged desolation, and filled up,
As ’t were anew, the gaps of centuries;
Leaving that beautiful which still was so,
And making that which was not, till the place        30
Became religion, and the heart ran o’er
With silent worship of the great of old!—
The dead, but sceptred sovereigns, who still rule
Our spirits from their urns.
 
 
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