All roads lead to Rome
To the eternal city of majesty.
Caesar once walked this same road
As did all those who left their mark,
Carved their name in triumph
With buildings that would last forever
And their legacy reverberate
The boundless power of Emperors
Stretched to the corners of the world
With but one twist of the hand
They decided the fates of thousands,
Waged war and judged justice,
Ruled over life and death,
Built monuments that would hold their legacies
When their names are lost to antiquity
And their bones ground into dust.
I will never meet these gods amongst men
But their names are familiar to me,
Surreal stories of lavish lives
Float down in legends,
Enrapture my imagination.
They appear in my mind crowned with gold,
Melodious voices and piercing eyes,
A pantheon of rules who long ago
Mastered the world.
But now I have seen with my own eyes
The fruits of labour of men
Dead for two thousand years,
Colossal statues and intricate temples,
Archs of triumphs standing proud,
Magnificent palaces stretching across hills,
A never-ending list
Of achievements and conquered lands
Etched into stone for posterity.
I have been dwarfed by giant arches,
Stood like an ant beneath ruined temples,
Lost myself in an imperial maze,
Stared into the soul of history itself.
I have walked the same roads as conquerors,
Gazed up at statues of deities,
Been entertained in giant ampitheatres,
And all that time awed
By the splendour of Emperors.
Two millennia have passed since then.
Buildings have crumbled,
Gold and marble have been stripped
From the magnificence of ancient sites.
And now only fragments stand,
Some faded, some ruined,
Worn and dusty
Blocks of stone.
Food for worms.
But even so, it is surreal
To stand on roads paved by ancient men,
To admire naught but
In the burning noontide heat,
Or get lost in a ruined palace,
Once the centre of the world,
And imagine what had been
The crowning jewel of another era.
[Written on 4/8/16]