Text: Edgar Allan Poe, “The Coliseum” (Text-04), Southern Literary Messenger, August 1835, 2:706, cols. 1-2


[page 706, column 1:]

From the Baltimore Visiter.



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 altered, 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!

Gaunt vestibules! and phantom-peopled aisles!

I feel ye now: I feel ye in your strength!

O spells more sure than e’er Judæan 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 yellow hair

Wav'd to the wind, now wave the reed and thistle:

Here, where on ivory couch the Caesar sate,

On bed of moss lies gloating the foul adder:

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

Glides spectre-like unto his marble home,

Lit by the wan light of the horned moon,

The swift and silent lizard of the stones.

These crumbling walls; these tottering arcades;

These mouldering plinths; these sad, and blacken'd shafts;

These vague entablatures; this broken frieze;

These shattered cornices; this wreck; this ruin;

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

All of the great 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 for ever

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

As in old days from Memnon to the sun.

We rule the hearts of mightiest men. We rule [column 2:]

With a despotic sway all giant minds

We are not desolate — 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.”



This is the entry which almost won for Poe the Baltimore Saturday Visiter prize for best poem. He was awarded the prize for best story for “MS Found in a Bottle.”


[S:1 - SLM, 1835] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Poems - The Coliseum (Text-04)