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The Widow Of Crescentius : Part I.

Felicia Dorothea Hemans 1793 (Liverpool, Lancashire) – 1835 (Dublin, County Dublin)

'Midst Tivoli's luxuriant glades,
Bright-foaming falls, and olive shades,
Where dwelt, in days departed long,
The sons of battle and of song,
No tree, no shrub its foliage rears,
But o'er the wrecks of other years,
Temples and domes, which long have been
The soil of that enchanted scene.

There the wild fig-tree and the vine
O'er Hadrian's mouldering villa twine;
The cypress, in funeral grace,
Usurps the vanished column's place;
O'er fallen shrine and ruined frieze
The wall-flower rustles in the breeze;
Acanthus-leaves the marble hide
They once adorned in sculptured pride;
And nature hath resumed her throne
O'er the vast works of ages flown.

Was it for this that many a pile,
Pride of Hissus and of Nile,
To Anio's banks the image lent
Of each imperial monument?
Now Athens weeps her shattered fanes,
Thy temples, Egypt, strew thy plains;
And the proud fabrics Hadrian reared
From Tibur's vale have disappeared.
We need no prescient sibyl there
The doom of grandeur to declare;
Each stone, where weeds and ivy climb,
Reveals some oracle of Time;
Each relic utters Fate's decree,
The future as the past shall be.

Halls of the dead! in Tibur's vale,
Who now shall tell your lofty tale?
Who trace the high patrician's dome,
The bard's retreat, the hero's home?
When moss-clad wrecks alone record
There dwelt the world's departed lord,
In scenes where verdure's rich array
Still sheds young beauty o'er decay,
And sunshine on each glowing hill,
'Midst ruins finds a dwelling still.

Sunk is thy palace - but thy tomb,
Hadrian! hath shared a prouder doom,
Though vanished with the days of old
Its pillars of Corinthian mould;
And the fair forms by sculpture wrought,
Each bodying some immortal thought,
Which o'er that temple of the dead,
Serene but solemn beauty shed,
Have found, like glory's self, a grave
In Time's abyss, or Tiber's wave:
Yet dreams more lofty and more fair
Than art's bold hand hath imaged e'er,
High thoughts of many a mighty mind,
Expanding when all else declined,
In twilight years, when only they
Recalled the radiance passed away,
Have made that ancient pile their home,
Fortress of freedom and of Rome.

There he, who strove in evil days
Again to kindle glory's rays,
Whose spirit sought a path of light,
For whose dim ages far too bright,-
Crescentius long maintained the strife
Which closed but with its martyr's life,
And left the imperial tomb a name,
A heritage of holier fame.

There closed De Brescia's mission high,
From thence the patriot came to die;
And thou, whose Roman soul the last
Spoke with the voice of ages past,
Whose thoughts so long from earth had fled
To mingle with the glorious dead,
That 'midst the world's degenerate race
They vainly sought a dwelling-place.
Within that house of death didst brood
O'er visions to thy ruin wooed.
Yet, worthy of a brighter lot,
Rienzi, be thy faults forgot!
For thou, when all around thee lay
Chained in the slumbers of decay -
So sunk each heart, that mortal eye
Had scarce a
tear
for liberty -
Alone, amidst the darkness there,
Couldst gaze on Rome - yet not despair!

'Tis morn, and Nature's richest dyes
Are floating o'er Italian skies;
Tints of transparent lustre shine
Along the snow-clad Appennine;
The clouds have left Soracte's height,
And yellow Tiber winds in light,
Where tombs and fallen fanes have strewed
The wide Campagna's solitude.
'Tis sad amidst that scene to trace
Those relics of a vanished race;
Yet, o'er the ravaged path of time -
Such glory sheds that brilliant clime,
Where Nature still, though empires fall,
Holds her triumphant festival -
E'en Desolation wears a smile,
Where skies and sunbeams laugh the while;
And heaven's own light, earth's richest bloom,
Array the ruin and the tomb.

But she, who from yon convent tower
Breathes the pure freshness of the hour;
She, whose rich flow of raven hair
Streams wildly on the morning air,
Heeds not how fair the scene below,
Robed in Italia's brightest glow.
Though throned 'midst Latium's classic plains
The Eternal City's towers and fanes,
And they, the Pleiades of earth,
The seven proud hills of Empire's birth,
Lie spread beneath: not now her glance
Roves o'er that vast sublime expanse;
Inspired, and bright with hope, 'tis thrown
On Adrian's massy tomb alone:
There, from the storm, when Freedom fled,
His faithful crew Crescentius led;
While she, his an
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Felicia Dorothea Hemans

Felicia Dorothea Hemans was an English poet. Two of her opening lines, "The boy stood on the burning deck" and "The stately homes of England", have acquired classic status. more…

All Felicia Dorothea Hemans poems | Felicia Dorothea Hemans Books

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    "The Widow Of Crescentius : Part I." Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 12 Jun 2021. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/13634/the-widow-of-crescentius-:-part-i.>.

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