Text: Edgar Allan Poe, “The Coliseum” (Text-08a), Saturday Museum (Philadelphia), February 25, 1843, p. 1, col. 8


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­[page 1, column 8, continued:]

THE COLISEUM.

Type of the antique Rome! Rich reliquary

Of lofty contemplation left to Time

By buried centuries of pomp and power!

At length — at length — after so many days

Of weary pilgrimage and burning thirst,

(Thirst for the springs of lore that in thee lie,)

I kneel, an alter’d and an humble man,

Amid thy shadows, and so drink within

My very soul thy grandeur, gloom and glory!

 

Vastness! and Age! and Memories of Eld!

Silence! and Desolation! and dim Night!

I feel ye now — I feel ye in your strength —

O spells more sure than e’er Judæn king

Taught in the gardens of Gethsemane!

O charms more potent than the rapt Chaldee

Ever drew down from out the quiet stars!

 

Here, where a hero fell, a column falls!

Here, where the mimic eagle glared in gold,

A midnight vigil holds the swarthy bat!

Here, where the dames of Rome their gilded hair

Waved to the wind, now wave the reed and thistle!

 

Here, where on golden throne the monarch loll’d,

Glides, spectre-like, unto his marble home,

Lit by the wan light of the hornéd moon,

The swift and silent lizard of the stones!

 

But stay! these walls — these ivy-clad arcades —

These mould’ring plinths — those sad and blacken’d shafts —

These vague entablatures — this crumbling frieze —

These shatter’d cornices — this wreck — this ruin —

These stones — alas! these gray stones — are they all —

All of the fam’d, and the colossal left

By the corrosive Hours, to Fate and me?

 

“Not all” — the Echoes answer me — “not all;

“Prophetic sounds, and loud, arise forever

“From us, and from all Ruin, unto the wise,

“As melody from Memmon to the Sun.

“We rule the hearts of mightiest men — we rule

“With a despotic sway all giant minds.

“We are not impotent — we pallid stones.

“Not all our power is gone — not all our fame —

“Not all the magic of our high renown —

“Not all the wonder that encircles us —

“Not all the mysteries that in us lie —

“Not all the memories that hang upon

“And cling around about us as a garment,

“Clothing us in a robe of more than glory.”


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Notes:

This poem is quoted as part of a biographical article on Poe. (The present version of the poem is identical with the March 4, 1843 text.)

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[S:1 - PSM, 1843 (photocopy)] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Poems - The Coliseum (Text-08a)