Edmund Spenser

Here you will find the Long Poem Ruins of Rome, by Bellay of poet Edmund Spenser

Ruins of Rome, by Bellay


Ye heavenly spirits, whose ashy cinders lie 
Under deep ruins, with huge walls opprest, 
But not your praise, the which shall never die 
Through your fair verses, ne in ashes rest; 
If so be shrilling voice of wight alive 
May reach from hence to depth of darkest hell, 
Then let those deep Abysses open rive, 
That ye may understand my shreiking yell. 
Thrice having seen under the heavens' vail 
Your tomb's devoted compass over all, 
Thrice unto you with loud voice I appeal, 
And for your antique fury here do call, 
The whiles that I with sacred horror sing, 
Your glory, fairest of all earthly thing. 


Great Babylon her haughty walls will praise, 
And sharpèd steeples high shot up in air; 
Greece will the old Ephesian buildings blaze; 
And Nylus' nurslings their Pyramids fair; 
The same yet vaunting Greece will tell the story 
Of Jove's great image in Olympus placed, 
Mausolus' work will be the Carian's glory, 
And Crete will boast the Labybrinth, now 'rased; 
The antique Rhodian will likewise set forth 
The great Colosse, erect to Memory; 
And what else in the world is of like worth, 
Some greater learnèd wit will magnify. 
But I will sing above all monuments 
Seven Roman Hills, the world's seven wonderments. 


Thou stranger, which for Rome in Rome here seekest, 
And nought of Rome in Rome perceiv'st at all, 
These same old walls, old arches, which thou seest, 
Old Palaces, is that which Rome men call. 
Behold what wreak, what ruin, and what waste, 
And how that she, which with her mighty power 
Tam'd all the world, hath tam'd herself at last, 
The prey of time, which all things doth devour. 
Rome now of Rome is th' only funeral, 
And only Rome of Rome hath victory; 
Ne ought save Tyber hastening to his fall 
Remains of all: O world's inconstancy. 
That which is firm doth flit and fall away, 
And that is flitting, doth abide and stay. 


She, whose high top above the stars did soar, 
One foot on Thetis, th' other on the Morning, 
One hand on Scythia, th' other on the Moor, 
Both heaven and earth in roundness compassing, 
Jove fearing, lest if she should greater grow, 
The old Giants should once again uprise, 
Her whelm'd with hills, these seven hills, which be now 
Tombs of her greatness, which did threat the skies: 
Upon her head he heaped Mount Saturnal, 
Upon her belly th' antique Palatine, 
Upon her stomach laid Mount Quirinal, 
On her left hand the noisome Esquiline, 
And Cælian on the right; but both her feet 
Mount Viminall and Aventine do meet. 


Who lists to see, what ever nature, art, 
And heaven could do, O Rome, thee let him see, 
In case thy greatness he can guess in heart, 
By that which but the picture is of thee. 
Rome is no more: but if the shade of Rome 
May of the body yield a seeming sight, 
It's like a corse drawn forth out of the tomb 
By Magick skill out of eternal night: 
The corpse of Rome in ashes is entombed, 
And her great sprite rejoinèd to the sprite 
Of this great mass, is in the same enwombed; 
But her brave writings, which her famous merit 
In spite of time, out of the dust doth rear, 
Do make her idol through the world appear. 


Such as the Berecynthian Goddess bright 
In her swift chariot with high turrets crowned, 
Proud that so many Gods she brought to light; 
Such was this City in her good days found: 
This city, more than the great Phrygian mother 
Renowned for fruit of famous progeny, 
Whose greatness by the greatness of none other, 
But by herself her equal match could see: 
Rome only might to Rome comparèd be, 
And only Rome could make great Rome to tremble: 
So did the Gods by heavenly doom decree, 
That other deathly power should not resemble 
Her that did match the whole earth's puissaunce, 
And did her courage to the heavens advance. 


Ye sacred ruins, and ye tragic sights, 
Which only do the name of Rome retain, 
Old monuments, which of so famous sprites 
The honour yet in ashes do maintain: 
Triumphant arcs, spires neighbors to the sky, 
That you to see doth th' heaven itself appall, 
Alas, by little ye to nothing fly, 
The people's fable, and the spoil of all: 
And though your frames do for a time make war 
'Gainst time, yet time in time shall ruinate 
Your works and names, and your last relics mar. 
My sad desires, rest therefore moderate: 
For if that time make ends of things so sure, 
It also will end the pain, which I endure. 


Through arms and vassals Rome the world subdued, 
That one would ween, that one sole City's strength 
Both land and sea in roundess had surview'd, 
To be the measure of her breadth and length: 
This peopl