by Philip Freneau
This antique dome the insatiate tooth of time
Now level with the dust has almost laid; —
Yet ere 'tis gone, I seize my humble theme
From these low ruins, that his years have made.
Behold the unsocial hearth! — where once the fires
Blazed high, and soothed the storm-stay'd traveller's woes;
See the weak roof, that abler props requires,
Admits the winds, and swift descending snows.
Here, to forget the labours of the day,
No more the swains at evening hours repair,
But wandering flocks assume the well known way
To shun the rigours of the midnight air.
In yonder chamber, half to ruin gone,
Once stood the ancient housewife's curtained bed —
Timely the prudent matron has withdrawn,
And each domestic comfort with her fled.
The trees, the flowers that her own hands had reared,
The plants, the vines, that were so verdant seen, —
The trees, the flowers, the vines have disappear'd,
And every plant has vanish'd from the green.
So sits in tears on wide Campania's plain
R OME , once the mistress of a world enslaved;
That triumph'd o'er the land, subdued the main,
And Time himself, in her wild transports, braved.
So sits in tears on Palestina's shore
The Hebrew town, of splendour once divine —
Her kings, her lords, her triumphs are no more;
Slain are her priests, and ruin'd every shrine.
Once, in the bounds of this deserted room,
Perhaps some swain nocturnal courtship made,
Perhaps some Sherlock mused amidst the gloom;
Since Love and Death forever seek the shade.
Perhaps some miser, doom'd to discontent,
Here counted o'er the heaps acquired with pain;
He to the dust — his gold, on traffick sent,
Shall ne'er disgrace these mouldering walls again.
Nor shall the glow-worm fopling, sunshine bred,
Seek, at the evening hour this wonted dome —
Time has reduced the fabrick to a shed,
Scarce fit to be the wandering beggar's home.
And none but I its dismal case lament —
None, none but I o'er its cold relics mourn,
Sent by the muse — (the time perhaps mispent — )
To write dull stanzas on this dome forlorn.
Last updated January 11, 2023