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RuinesRnines of Rome: by Bellay.
1
YEYe heauenlyheavenly spirites, whose ashie cinders lie
VnderUnder deep ruines, with huge walls opprest,
But not your praise, the which shall neuernever die
Through your faire verses, ne in ashes rest;
If so be shrilling voyce of wight aliuealive
May reach from hence to depth of darkest hell,
Then let those deep Abysses open riuerive,
That ye may vnderstandunderstand my shreiking yell.
Thrice hauinghaving seene vnderunder the heauensheavens veale
Your toombs deuoteddevoted compasse ouerover all,
Thrice vntounto you with lowd voyce I appeale,
And for your antique furie here doo call,
The whiles that I with sacred horror sing
Your glorie, fairest of all earthly thing.
2
Great Babylon her haughtie walls will praise,
And sharped steeples high shot vpup in ayre;
Greece will the olde Ephesian buildings blaze;
And Nylus nurslings their Pyramides faire;
The same yet vaunting Greece will tell the storie
Of IouesJoves great Image in Olympus placed,
Mansolus worke will be the Carians glorie.
And Crete will boast the Labyrinth, now raced;
The antique Rhodian will likewise set forth
The great Colosse, erect to Memorie;
And what els in the world is of like worth,
Some greater learned wit will magnifie.
But I will sing aboueabove all moniments
SeuenSeven Romane Hils, the worlds 7. wonderments.
3
Thou stranger, which for Rome in Rome here seekest,
And nought of Rome in Rome perceiu’stperceiv’st at all,
These fame olde walls, olde arches, which thou seest,
Olde Palaces is that, which Rome men call.
Behold what wreake, what ruine, and what wast,
And how that she, which with her mightie powre
Tam’d all the world, hath tam’d herselfe at last,
The pray of time, which all things doth deuowredevowre.
Rome now of Rome is th’onely funerall,
And onely Rome of Rome hath victorie;
Ne ought sauesave Tyber hastning to his fall
Remaines of all: O worlds inconstancie.
That which is firme doth flit and fall away,
And that is flitting, doth abide and stay.
4
She, whose high top aboueabove the starres did sore,
One foote on Thetis, th’other on the Morning,
One hand on Scythia, th’other on the More,
Both heauenheaven and earth in roundnesse compassing,
IoueJove fearing, least if she should greater growe,
Th’old Giants should once againe vpriseuprise,
Her whelm’d with hills, these 7. hils, which be nowe
Tombes of her greatnes, which did threate the skies:
VponUpon her head he heapt Mount Saturnal,
VponUpon her bellie th’antique Palatine,
VponUpon her stomacke laid Mount Quirinal,
On her left hand the noysome Esquiline,
And Cælian on the right; but both her feete
Mount Vimnial and AuentineAventine doo meete.
5
Who lists to see, what euerever nature, arte,
And heauenheaven could doo, O Rome, thee let him see,
In case thy greatnes he can gesse in harte,
By that which but the picture is of thee.
Rome is no more: but if the shade of Rome
May of the bodie yeeld a seeming sight,
It’s like a corse drawne forth out of the tombe
By Magicke skill out of eternall night:
The corpes of Rome in ashes is entombed,
And her great spirite reioynedrejoyned to the spirite
Of this great masse, is in the same enwombed;
But her brauebrave writings, which her famous merite
In spight of time, out of the dust doth reare,
Doo make her Idole through the world appeare.
6
Such as the Berecynthian Goddesse bright
In her swift charret with high turrets crownde,
Proud that so manie Gods she brought to light;
Such was this Citie in her good daies fownd:
This Citie, more than that great Phrygian mother
Renowm’d for fruite of famous progenie,
Whose greatnes by the greatnes of none other,
But by her selfe her equall match could see:
Rome onely might to Rome compared bee,
And onely Rome could make great Rome to tremble:
So did the Gods by heauenlyheavenly doome decree,
That other earthlie power should not resemble
Her that did match the whole earths puissaunce,
And did her courage to the heauensheavens aduaunceadvaunce.
7
Ye sacred ruines, and ye tragick sights,
Which onely doo the name of Rome retaine,
Olde moniments, which of so famous sprights
The honour yet in ashes doo maintaine:
Triumphant Arcks, spyres neighbours to the skie,
That you to see doth th’heauenth’heavenit selfe appall,
Alas, by little ye to nothing flie,
The peoples fable, and the spoyle of all:
And though your frames do for a time make warre
Gainst time, yet time in time shall ruinate
Your workes and names, and your last reliques marre.
My sad desires, rest therefore moderate:
For if that time make ende of things so sure,
It als will end the paine, which I endure.
8
Through armes &and vassals Rome the world subdu’d,
That one would weene, that one sole Cities strength
Both land and sea in roundnes had suruew’dsurvew’d,
To be the measure of her bredth and length:
This peoples vertue yet so fruitfull was
Of vertuous nephewes, that posteritie
StriuingStriving in power their grandfathers to passe,
The lowest earth, ioin’djoin’d to the heauenheaven hie;
To th’end that hauinghaving all parts in their power,
Nought from the Romane Empire might be quight,
And that though time doth CõmonwealthsCommonwealths deuowredevowre,
Yet no time should so low embase their hight,
That her head earth’d in her foundations deep,
Should not her name and endles honour keep.
9
Ye cruell starres, and eke ye Gods vnkindeunkinde,
HeauenHeaven enuiousenvious, and bitter stepdame Nature,
Be it by fortune, or by course of kinde
That ye doo weld th’affaires of earthlie creature;
Why hauehave your hands long sithence traueiledtraveiled
To frame this world, that doth endure so long?
Or why were not these Romane palaces
Made of some matter no lesse firme and strong?
I say not, as the common voyce doth say,
That all things which beneath the Moone hauehave being
Are temporall, and subiectsubject to decay:
But I say rather, though not all agreeing
With some, that weene the contrarie in thought;
That all this whole shall one day come to nought.
10
As that brauebrave sonne of Aeson, which by charmes
Atcheiu’dAtcheiv’dthe golden Fleece in Colchid land,
Out of the earth engendred men of armes
Of Dragons teeth, sowne in the sacred sand;
So this brauebrave Towne, that in her youthlie daies
An Hydra was of warriours glorious,
Did fill with her renowmed nourslings praise
The firie sunnes both one and other hous:
But they at last, there being then not liuingliving
An Hercules, so ranke seed to represse;
Emongst themseluesthemselves with cruell furie striuingstriving,
Mow’d downe themseluesthemselves with slaughter mercilesse;
Renewing in themseluesthemselves that rage vnkindeunkinde,
Which whilom did those earthborn brethrẽbrethren blinde.
11
Mars shaming to hauehave giuengivenso great head
To his off-spring, that mortall puissaunce
Puft vpup with pride of Romane hardie head,
Seem’d aboueabove heauensheavens powre it selfe to aduaunceadvaunce;
Cooling againe his former kindled heate;
With which he had those Romane spirits fild,
Did blowe new fire, and with enflamed breath,
Into the Gothicke colde hot rage instil’d:
Then gan that Nation, th’earths new Giant brood,
To dart abroad the thunder bolts of warre,
And beating downe these walls with furious mood
Into her mothers bosome, all did marre;
To th’end that none, all were it Ioue Jove his sire
Should boast himselfe of the Romane Empire.
12
Like as whilome the children of the earth
Heapt hils on hils, to scale the starrie skie,
And fight against the Gods of heauenlyheavenlyberth,
Whiles Ioue Jove at them his thunderbolts let flie;
All suddenly with lightning ouerthrowneoverthrowne,
The furious squadrons downe to ground did fall,
That th’earth vnderunder her childrens weight did grone,
And th’heauensth’heavensin glorie triumpht oueroverall:
So did that haughtie front which heaped was
On these seuenseven Romane hils, it selfe vpreareupreare
OuerOver the world, and lift her loftie face
Against the heauenheaven, that gan her force to feare.
But now these scorned fields bemone her fall,
And Gods secure feare not her force at all.
13
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 vnstableunstable,
Nor thou opposd’ against thine owne puissance;
Nor th’horrible vproreuprore of windes high blowing,
Nor swelling streames of that God snakie paced,
Which hath so often with his overflowing
Thee drenched, hauehave thy pride so much abaced;
But that this nothing, which they hauehave thee left,
Makes the world wõderwonder, what they from thee reft.
14
As men in Summer fearles passe the soord,
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 vseuse to despise
The noble Lion after his liueslives 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 brauebrave 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.
15
Ye pallid spirits, and ye ashie ghoasts,
Which ioyingjoying 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 riuerriver
Of Styx, not passable to soules returning,
Enclosing you in thrice three wards for euerever,
Doo not restraine your images still mourning)
Tell me then (for perhaps some one of you
Yet here aboueabove 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?
16
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 hauinghaving his wide wings spent in wast,
To stop his wearie cariere suddenly:
And as ye see huge flames spred diuersliediverslie,
Gathered in one vpup to the heauensheavens to spyre,
Eftsoones consum’d to fall downe feebily:
So whilom did this Monarchie aspyre
As waueswaves, as winde, as fire spred ouerover all,
Till it by fatall doome adowne did fall.
17
So long as IouesJoves great Bird did make his flight,
Bearing the fire with which heauenheaven doth vsus fray,
HeauenHeaven 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 ouerspreddoverspredd,
The earth out of her massie wombe forth sent
That antique horror, which made heauenheaven adredd.
Then was the Germane RauenRaven in disguise
That Romane Eagle seene to cleauecleave asunder,
And towards heauenheaven freshly to arise
Out of these mountaines, now consum’d to pouder.
In which the foule that seruesserves to beare the lightning,
Is now no more seen flying, nor alighting.
18
These heapes of stones, these old wals which ye see,
Were first enclosures but of saluagesalvage soyle;
And these brauebrave Pallaces which maystred bee
Of time, were shepheards cottages somewhile.
Then tooke the shepheards Kingly ornament
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’heauen 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.
19
All that is perfect, which th’heauenth’heavenbeautefies;
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 euillevill was enclosed,
Their heauenlyheavenly vertues from these woes assoyling,
Caried to heauenheaven, from sinfull bondage losed:
But their great sinnes, the causers of their paine,
VnderUnder these antique ruines yet remaine.
20
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 vpup againe, from whence he came,
With his great bellie spreds the dimmed world,
Till at the last dissoluingdissolving his moist frame,
In raine, or snowe, or haile he forth is horld;
This Citie, which was first but shepheards shade,
VprisingUprising 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.
21
The same which Pyrrhus, and the puissaunce
Of Afrike could not tame, that same brauebrave Citie,
Which with stout courage arm’d against mischaũcemischaunce,
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 neuernever seene, that anie fortunes wreakes
Could breake her course begun with brauebrave intent.
But when the obiectobject of her vertue failed,
Her power it selfe against it selfe did arme;
As he that hauinghaving long in tempest sailed,
Faine would ariuearive, but cannot for the storme,
If too great winde against the port him driuedrive,
Doth in the port it selfe his vessell riuerive.
22
When that brauebrave 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 vproreuprore
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 vniuerseuniverse
In sixe and thirtie thousand yeares is ronne,
The bands of th’elements shall backe reuersereverse
To their first discord, and be quite vndonneundonne:
The seedes, of which all things at first were bred,
Shall in great Chaos wombe againe be hid.
23
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 ouerworneoverworne;
He well foresaw, how that the Romane courage,
Impatient of pleasures faint desires,
Through idlenes would turne to ciuillcivill rage,
And be her selfe the matter of her fires.
For in a people giuengiven all to ease,
Ambition is engendred easily;
As in a vicious bodie, grose disease
Soone growes through humours superfluitie.
That came to passe, whẽwhen swolne with plẽtiesplenties pride,
Nor prince, nor peere, nor kin they would abide.
24
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 vnappeasedunappeased guilt
Powr’d vengeance forth on you eternallie?
Or brothers blood, the which at first was spilt
VponUpon your walls, that God might not endure,
VponUpon the same to set foundation sure?
25
O that I had the Thracian Poets harpe,
For to awake out of th’infernall shade
Those antique Cæsars, 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 ioyntsjoynts 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 diuinedivine;
I would assay with that which in me is,
To builde with leuelllevell of my loftie style,
That which no hands can euermoreevermore compyle.
26
Who list the Romane greatnes forth to figure,
Him needeth not to seeke for vsageusage right
Of line, or lead, or rule, or squaire, to measure
Her length, her breadth, her deepnes, or her hight,
But him behoouesbehooves 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.
27
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;
IudgeJudge by these ample ruines vew, the rest
The which iniuriousinjurious 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 iudgejudge, that the Romaine Dæmon
Doth yet himselfe with fatall hand enforce,
Againe on foote to reare her pouldred corse.
28
He that hath seene a great Oke drie and dead,
Yet clad with reliques of some Trophees olde,
Lifting to heauenheaven her aged hoarie head,
Whose foote in ground hath left but feeble holde;
But halfe disbowel’d lies aboueabove the ground,
Shewing her wreathed rootes, and naked armes,
And on her trunke all rotten and vnsoundunsound
Onely supports herselfe for meate of wormes;
And though she owe her fall to the first winde,
Yet of the deuoutdevout 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.
29
All that which Aegypt whilome did deuisedevise,
All that which Greece their temples to embraueembrave,
After th’Ionicke, Atticke, Doricke guise,
Or Corinth skil’d in curious workes to grauegrave;
All that Lysippus practike arte could forme,
Apelles wit, or Phidias his skill,
Was wont this auncient Citie to adorne,
And the heauenheaven it selfe with her wide wonders fill;
All that which Athens euerever brought forth wise,
All that which Afrike euerever brought forth strange,
All that which Asie euerever had of prise,
Was here to see. O meruelousmervelous great change:
Rome liuingliving, was the worlds sole ornament,
And dead, is now the worlds sole moniment.
30
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 wauingwaving lockes of those faire yeallow heares,
Which bound in sheauessheaves, and layd in comely rowes,
VponUpon 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:
As they which gleane, the reliques vseuse to gather,
Which th’husbãdmãth’husbandman behind him chanst to scater.
31
That same is now nought but a champian wide,
Where all this worlds pride once was situate.
No blame to thee, whosoeuerwhosoever 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 brauebrave warlicke brood of Alemaine,
Nor the borne Souldier which Rhine running drinks:
Thou onely cause, ô CiuillCivill furie, art
Which sowing in th’Aemathian fields thy spight,
Didst arme thy hand against thy proper 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.
32
Hope ye my yerses that posteritie
Of age ensuing shall you euerever read?
Hope ye that euerever immortalitie
So meane Harpes worke may chalenge for her meed?
If vnderunder heauenheaven anie endurance were,
These moniments, which not in paper writ,
But in Porphyre and Marble doo appeare,
Might well hauehave hop’d to hauehave obtained it.
Nath’les my Lute, whom Phœbus deignd to giuegive,
Cease not to sound these olde antiquities:
For if that time doo let thy glorie liuelive,
Well maist thou boast, how euerever base thou bee,
That thou art first, which of thy Nation song
Th’olde honour of the people gowned long.
0. Ruines] this edn.; Rnines 1591
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Introduction

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Textual Changes

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Off: That a large share it hewd out of the rest, (blest. And glauncing downe his shield, from blame him fairely (FQ I.ii.18.8-9) On: That a large share it hewd out of the rest, And glauncing downe his shield, from blame him fairely blest.

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Off: Sweet slõbring deaw, the which to sleep them biddes: (FQ I.i.36.4)

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Off: And all the world in their subiection held, Till that infernall feend with foule vprore (FQ I.i.5.6-7) On: And all the world in their subjection held, Till that infernall feend with foule uprore

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Most lothsom, filthie, foule, and full of vile disdaine (FQ I.i.14.9) 14.9. Most lothsom] this edn.; Mostlothsom 1590

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Apparatus

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And shall thee well rewarde to shew the place, (FQ I.i.31.5) 5. thee] 1590; you 15961609

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To my long approoved and singular good frende, Master G.H. (Letters I.1) 1. long aprooved: tried and true, found trustworthy over a long period