ODE TO THE TIBER.
On entering the CAMPANIA of ROME, at OTRICOLI, MDCCLV.
1 HAIL sacred Stream, whose waters roll
2 Immortal thro' the classic page!
3 To Thee the Muse-devoted soul,
4 Tho' destin'd to a later age
5 And less indulgent clime, to Thee,
6 Nor thou disdain, in runic lays
7 Weak mimic of true harmony,
8 His grateful homage pays.
9 Far other strains thine elder ear
10 With pleas'd attention wont to hear,
11 When he, who strung the Latian lyre,
12 And he, who led th' Aonian quire[Page 38]
13 From Mantua's reedy lakes with osiers crown'd,
14 Taught Echo from thy banks with transport to resound.
15 Thy banks? — alas, is this the boasted scene,
16 This dreary, wide, uncultivated plain,
17 Where sick'ning Nature wears a fainter green,
18 And Desolation spreads her torpid reign?
19 In this the scene where Freedom breath'd,
20 Her copious horn where Plenty wreath'd,
21 And Health at opening day
22 Bade all her roseate breezes fly,
23 To wake the sons of Industry,
24 And make their fields more gay?
25 Where is the villa's rural pride,
26 The swelling dome's imperial gleam,
27 Which lov'd to grace thy verdant side,
28 And tremble in thy golden stream?
29 Where are the bold, the busy throngs,
30 That rush'd impatient to the war,
31 Or tun'd to peace triumphal songs,
32 And hail'd the passing car?
33 Along the solitary*
* The Flaminian way.road,
34 Th' eternal flint by Consuls trod,
35 We muse, and mark the sad decays
36 Of mighty works, and mighty days!
37 For these vile wastes, we cry, had Fate decreed
38 That Veii's sons should strive, for these Camillus bleed?[Page 39]
39 Did here, in after-times of Roman pride,
40 The musing shepherd from Soracte's height
41 See towns extend where'er thy waters glide,
42 And temples rise, and peopled farms unite?
43 They did. For this deserted plain
44 The Hero strove, nor strove in vain:
45 And here the shepherd saw
46 Unnumber'd towns and temples spread,
47 While Rome majestic rear'd her head,
48 And gave the nations law.
49 Yes, Thou and Latium once were great.
50 And still, ye first of human things,
51 Beyond the grasp of time or fate
52 Her fame and thine triumphant springs.
53 What tho' the mould'ring columns fall,
54 And strow the desart earth beneath,
55 Tho' ivy round each nodding wall
56 Entwine its fatal wreath,
57 Yet say, can Rhine or Danube boast
58 The numerous glories thou hast lost?
59 Can ev'n Euphrates' palmy shore,
60 Or Nile, with all his mystic lore,
61 Produce from old records of genuine fame
62 Such heroes, poets, kings, or emulate thy name?
63 Ev'n now the Muse, the conscious Muse is here;
64 From every ruin's formidable shade
65 Eternal Music breathes on Fancy's ear,[Page 40]
66 And wakes to more than form th' illustrious dead.
67 Thy Caesars, Scipios, Catos rise,
68 The great, the virtuous, and the wise,
69 In solemn state advance!
70 They fix the philosophic eye,
71 Or trail the robe, or lift on high
72 The light'ning of the lance.
73 But chief that humbler happier train
74 Who knew those virtues to reward
75 Beyond the reach of chance or pain
76 Secure, th' historian and the bard.
77 By them the hero's generous rage
78 Still warm in youth immortal lives;
79 And in their adamantine page
80 Thy glory still survives.
81 Thro' deep Savannahs wild and vast,
82 Unheard, unknown thro' ages past,
83 Beneath the sun's directer beams
84 What copious torrents pour their streams!
85 No fame have they, no fond pretence to mourn,
86 No annals swell their pride, or grace their storied urn.
87 Whilst Thou, with Rome's exalted genius joins,
88 Her spear yet lifted, and her corslet brac'd,
89 Can'st tell the waves, can'st tell the passing wind
90 Thy wond'rous tale, and cheer the list'ning waste.
91 Tho' from his caves th' unfeeling North
92 Pour'd all his legion'd tempests forth,[Page 41]
93 Yet still thy laurels bloom:
94 One deathless glory still remains,
95 Thy stream has roll'd thro' LATIAN plains,
96 Has wash'd the walls of ROME.
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About this text
Title (in Source Edition): ODE TO THE TIBER. WRITTEN ABROAD.
Author: William Whitehead
Themes: travel; nature
References: DMI 27810
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