Nicholas Michell

Vienne, that stood when Caesar's blood-stained sword
Mowed down the Gaul, and many a Celtic horde,
Still boasts her wreck of Rome's departed power,
A mouldered theatre, a granite tower —
Walls where Judaea's king a captive sighed,
And many a Christian martyr groaned and died.
With foliaged columns graced, yon shrine behold!
There altars blazed, and dwelt a god of old,
But now the curious heap their little stores,
Shell, bird, and fish, quaint scrolls, and sparkling ores.
From these we turn a darker pile to view,
Fraught with an interest years must still renew;
Mark yon square basement with the tall arcade,
That casts at evening hour a solemn shade;
The pillars gray with years, the carvings worn,
No name, no sculptured form, the sides adorn.


Author's Note: Vienne, the Vienna of the Romans, situated on the east bank of the Rhone, is one of the oldest towns in the South of France; Caesar names it in his "Commentaries," for at the time of his invasion of Gaul it was the chief town of the Allobroges. It afterwards became a Roman colony, and was the great rival of its neighbour, Lugdunum (Lyons). Roman antiquities are abundant at Vienne, the principal being the remains of a theatre and amphitheatre; a triumphal arch; a square Roman tower called Fort Pipet, but Fort Solomon is of Gothic origin: the Corinthian temple named above; and the tomb of Pontius Pilate.

Main Location:

Vienne, France