Pompeii And Herculaneum

What wonder this?--we ask the lympid well,
O earth! of thee--and from thy solemn womb
What yieldest thou?--is there life in the abyss--
Doth a new race beneath the lava dwell?
Returns the past, awakening from the tomb?
Rome--Greece!--Oh, come!--Behold--behold! for this!
Our living world--the old Pompeii sees;
And built anew the town of Dorian Hercules!
House upon house--its silent halls once more
Opes the broad portico!--Oh, haste and fill
Again those halls with life!--Oh, pour along
Through the seven-vista'd theatre the throng!
Where are ye, mimes?--Come forth, the steel prepare
For crowned Atrides, or Orestes haunt,
Ye choral Furies, with your dismal chant!
The arch of triumph!--whither leads it?--still
Behold the forum!--on the curule chair
Where the majestic image? Lictors, where
Your solemn fasces?--Place upon his throne
The Praetor--here the witness lead, and there
Bid the accuser stand

--O God! how lone
The clear streets glitter in the quiet day--
The footpath by the doors winding its lifeless way!
The roofs arise in shelter, and around
The desolate Atrium--every gentle room
Wears still the dear familiar smile of home!
Open the doors--the shops--on dreary night
Let lusty day laugh down in jocund light!

See the trim benches ranged in order!--See
The marble-tesselated floor--and there
The very walls are glittering livingly
With their clear colors. But the artist, where!
Sure but this instant he hath laid aside
Pencil and colors!--Glittering on the eye
Swell the rich fruits, and bloom the flowers!--See all
Art's gentle wreaths still fresh upon the wall!
Here the arch Cupid slyly seems to glide
By with bloom-laden basket. There the shapes
Of genii press with purpling feet the grapes,
Here springs the wild Bacchante to the dance,
And there she sleeps [while that voluptuous trance
Eyes the sly faun with never-sated glance]
Now on one knee upon the centaur-steeds
Hovering--the Thyrsus plies.--Hurrah!--away she speeds!

Come--come, why loiter ye?--Here, here, how fair
The goodly vessels still! Girls, hither turn,
Fill from the fountain the Etruscan urn!
On the winged sphinxes see the tripod.-- Ho!
Quick--quick, ye slaves, come--fire!--the hearth prepare!
Ha! wilt thou sell?--this coin shall pay thee--this,
Fresh from the mint of mighty Titus!--Lo!
Here lie the scales, and not a weight we miss
So--bring the light! The delicate lamp!--what toil
Shaped thy minutest grace!--quick pour the oil!
Yonder the fairy chest!--come, maid, behold
The bridegroom's gifts--the armlets--they are gold,
And paste out-feigning jewels!--lead the bride
Into the odorous bath--lo! unguents still--
And still the crystal vase the arts for beauty fill!

But where the men of old--perchance a prize
More precious yet in yon papyrus lies,
And see ev'n still the tokens of their toil--
The waxen tablets--the recording style.
The earth, with faithful watch, has hoarded all!
Still stand the mute penates in the hall;
Back to his haunts returns each ancient god.
Why absent only from their ancient stand
The priests?--waves Hermes his Caducean rod,
And the winged victory struggles from the hand.
Kindle the flame--behold the altar there!
Long hath the god been worshipless--to prayer.

by Friedrich Schiller

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