Nicholas Michell

But Paestum's giant temples — lift thine eyes —
In all their stern and columned grandeur rise.
Pause! trav'ller, pause! say, doth not wonder thrill
Thy creeping veins, and awe thy bosom fill?
Wrestling with Time, the hoary brethren stand,
Superbly graceful, and severely grand;
Their style of rival countries seems to speak,
In strength Egyptian, and in beauty Greek;
Built ere Minerva's shrine on Athens gazed,
Or by wild Tiber Rome's rude walls were raised,
Three thousand years these structures fail to bow,
Massive when Christ was born, and massive now.
Gaze on the architrave's majestic length,
The deep-ranged fluted pillars' Titan strength,
The low wide pediment, the strong- walled cell,
Where altars burned, and gods were wont to dwell;
And say no more, in poor and narrow pride,
Art lives to-day, but rather Art hath died;
Confess that Taste beholds on Paestum's plain,
What modern skill might strive to match in vain.

The temples of Paestum date from the 6th century BC. They are the most spectacular remains of what was a powerful Greek city and are among the best preserved Greek temples in the world.