Poems of Letitia Elizabeth Landon (L. E. L.) in The Keepsake, 1833/Marius at the Ruins of Carthage

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Marius Mourning over the Ruins of Carthage.png


Artist John MartinEngraved by W. Wallace


BY L. E. L.

He turn'd him from the setting sun,
    Now sinking in the bay:—
He knew that so his course was run,
    But with no coming day;
From gloomy seas and stormy skies
He had no other morn to rise.

He sat, the column at his feet,
    The temple low beside;
A few wild flowers blossom'd sweet
    Above the column's pride;
And many a wave of drifted sand
The arch, the once triumphal, spann'd.

The place of pleasant festival,
    The calm and quiet home,
The senate, with its pillar'd hall,
    The palace with its dome,—
All things in which men boast and trust
Lay prone in the unconscious dust.

Yet this the city which once stood
    A queen beside the sea,
Who said she ruled the ocean flood
    Wherever there might be
Path for bold oar or daring prow:—
Where are her thousand galleys now?

A bird rose up—it was the owl,
    Abroad at close of day;
The wind it brought a sullen howl,
    The wolf is on his way;
The ivy o'er yon turret clings,
And there the wild bee toils and sings.

And yet these once were battlements,
    With watchers proud and bold,
Who slept in war-time under tents
    Of purple and of gold!
This is the city with whose power
Rome battled for earth's sovereign hour!

That hour it now was Rome's, and he
    Who sat desponding there,
Had he not aim'd the soul to be
    Of all that she could dare;
The will that led that mighty state,
The greatest, too—where all were great?

An exile and a fugitive,
    The Roman leant alone;
All round him might those lessons give
    The past has ever shown,
With which is all experience fraught,
Still teaching those who are not taught.

He saw and felt wealth, glory, mind
    Are given but for a day;
No star but hath in time declined,
    No power but pass'd away!
He witness'd how all things were vain,
And then went forth to war again!