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The Vision changes—ages take their flight: All, save the Temple, dream-like, now is flown: The City's place is vanished from the sight: One massive fragment from that shrine is thrown, One sits thereon of kingly mien, alone: Deep lines of thought upon his brow appear: The imperial toga hath the Roman shown: He gazes on the answering Ruin;—near His silent courtiers wait—for dumb is flattery here!
It is Augustus Caesar: it may be Truth silently is entering his breast, Filled with the wisdom of antiquity: Those mighty spirits who their words impressed, And works, upon mankind, now laid in rest, Passed, yea, forgotten as the breeze that blew Unheeded by him there ! then, unrepressed, A deeper gloom upon his forehead grew, Feeling how vainly Fame doth here our life renew.
He felt the Power presiding here, as thou: Stern Mutability:—that Rome, his pride, His boast, arrayed by him in marble now, Might one day in the desert thus abide, Bowed to the Fate she haughtily defied! Her Forum-place, a solitude; the spot Even where she stood—unknown: he turned aside: The moral with his spirit's life was wrought; Truth entered in his soul—her words were unforgot.
The Sun is setting: carrying Day before, And leaving Night and Solitude behind: Material god! and is the word—No More— Stamped on thy blazing brow? shalt thou, enshrined Soul of that infinite space, thy mandate find, The irrevocable doom to be destroyed? Or, art thou living like the Almighty Mind? Thy beams decreed to lighten o'er the void Where once our World of Life, thought, suffered, and enjoyed!
Glorious idolatry of elder time!
God-like, or rising, throned, or in decline:
Where are those days when men, like gods, sublime,
Bowed on their hills ? yea, hallowed as divine
The Stars that drew their crowns of light from thine!
They who beheld in thee the visible face
Of the Invisible within his shrine:
What shrine was like thine Eye ? what altar-place Like thy all-infinite heaven—whose walls are echoless space?
Lord of the Day ! and being infinite,
That lives within thy beams—whose life thou art:
Creator of the Seasons—Eye of Light!
Thy rays pervade, like melody, the heart,
Till of their feeling it becomes a part:
Until all shapes that haunt our phantasy,
All forms of beauty into life that start,
Of glory, power, and of majesty, Are drawn from thy bright Urn by treasuring Memory!
The blue Mediterranean bosoms thee:
Roll on for ever, wildly fresh and free! Men raise their ant-hill cities on thy brink; States, empires' rise and fall are typed by thee: Time's dusty records in oblivion sink; And they, the lights that shone o'er ages, shrink Again in darkness: deeds, and thoughts that bore The stamps that to immortal natures link; Unchanged alone thou roll'st from shore to shore, Girding the earth like heaven—the same for evermore! XCI.
And galaxied with Cyclades, whose names
"No further pass—even here shall thy proud course be stayed!"
XCII. Thou mighty Being ! vain are round thee reared Earth's mountain walls, and ramparts of the sand, That sunk beneath the irruption which they feared; Thou, who hast made an Ocean of the land, Whose Waters o'er a buried world expand! What Mammoth-monsters, there, lie unconfessed! Oh, in thy mystery alone how grand Art thou!—the Almighty mirrored in thy breast:
The calm—the wrath—the thunder—the eternal rest!