Excerpt from “Palmyra” by John Henry Bright

Movemur, nescio quo pacto, ipsis locis, in quibus eorum, quos admiramur, adsunt vestigial.*

Time, like a mighty river, deep and strong,
In sullen silence rolls his tide along ;
And all that now upborne upon the wave
Ride swiftly on—the monarch and the slave
Shall sink at last beneath the whelming stream,
And all that once was life, become a dream!

Go – look on Greece l her glories long have fled,
Her ancient spirit slumbers with the dead;
Deaf to the call of freedom and of fame,
Her sons are Greeks in nothing but the name!
On Tiber’s banks, beneath their native sky,
The sad remains of Roman greatness lie;
No longer there the list’ning crowds admire
The swelling tones of Virgil’s epic lyre,
Nor conqu’ring Caesar holds resistless sway
O’er realms extended to the rising day.

Yet still to these shall Fancy fondly turn,
Still bid the laurel bloom on Maro’s urn;
From Brutus’s dagger sweep the gath’ring rust,
And call his spirit from its aged dust!
What tho’ each busy scene has ceas’d to live,
It has the charms poetic numbers give;
And ever fresh as ages roll along,
Revives and brightens in the light of song.—

At summer eve, when ev’ry sound is still,
And day-light fades upon the western hill,
And o’er the blue unfathomable way
Heav’n’s starry host in cloudless beauty stray;
What holy joys enamour’d fancy feels
As all the past upon the mem’ry steals!
How soft the tints, how pensive, how sublime,
Each image borrows from the touch of time!
Such winning grace the beauteous vision wears
Seen through the twilight of a thousand years!

Note: The quote is attributed to Atticus by Cicero and translates as: For we are moved in some strange way by the actual places in which traces are present of those whom we love or admire.

From: Cambridge Prize Poems: Being a Collection of the English Poems which have obtained the Chancellor’s Gold Medal in the University of Cambridge, New Edition, considerably enlarged, 1847, Henry Washbourne: New Bridge Street, pp. 120-124.

Date: 1822

By: John Henry Bright (1801-1873)

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