Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895
Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895.  1895.
An Etruscan Ring
John William Mackail
WHERE, girt with orchard and with olive-yard,
The white hill-fortress glimmers on the hill,
Day after day an ancient goldsmith’s skill
Guided the copper graver, tempered hard
By some lost secret, while he shaped the sard        5
Slowly to beauty, and his tiny drill,
Edged with corundum, ground its way until
The gem lay perfect for the ring to guard.
Then seeing the stone complete to his desire,
With mystic imagery carven thus,        10
And dark Egyptian symbols fabulous,
He drew through it the delicate golden wire,
And bent the fastening; and the Etrurian sun
Sank behind Ilva, and the work was done.
What dark-haired daughter of a Lucumo
Bore on her slim white finger to the grave
This the first gift her Tyrrhene lover gave,
Those five-and-twenty centuries ago?
What shadowy dreams might haunt it, lying low
So long, while kings and armies, wave on wave,        20
Above the rock-tomb’s buried architrave
Went million-footed trampling to and fro?
Who knows? but well it is so frail a thing,
Unharm’d by conquering Time’s supremacy,
Still should be fair, though scarce less old than Rome.        25
Now once again at rest from wandering
Across the high Alps and the dreadful sea,
In utmost England let it find a home.


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