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William Wordsworth
Complete Poetical Works

YARROW REVISITED, AND OTHER POEMS

XXIV

ROMAN ANTIQUITIES

FROM THE ROMAN STATION AT OLD PENRITH

HOW profitless the relics that we cull,
Troubling the last holds of ambitious Rome,
Unless they chasten fancies that presume
Too high, or idle agitations lull!
Of the world's flatteries if the brain be full,
To have no seat for thought were better doom,
Like this old helmet, or the eyeless skull
Of him who gloried in its nodding plume.
Heaven out of view, our wishes what are they?
Our fond regrets tenacious in their grasp?
The Sage's theory? the Poet's lay?
Mere Fibulae without a robe to clasp;
Obsolete lamps, whose light no time recalls;
Urns without ashes, tearless lacrymals!