The Arch at Orange

Nicholas Michell

There stands an arch at Orange — pause awhile,
And let fond Taste admire that gorgeous pile;
Its massive strength, its front that towers sublime,
Have stood unscathed the thunderbolts of time.
Behold that sweeping vault, those mouldings fair,
The pillars crowned with foliage rich and rare,
The classic sculptures glowing down each side,
The high-raised attic graced with shields of pride —
You gaze, and ask whose skilful hand could rear
This beauteous mass, and wherefore stands it here?
Alas! the builder rare hath honour — vain
The task of those who toil, no name they gain,
But others reap the glory; chiefs and kings,
Who framed them not, thus claim earth's grandest things.

The great triumphal arch at Orange was originally built in the reign of Augustus Caesar (27 BC-14 AD) in honour of the Roman legionaries who fought in the Gallic Wars, notably the 2nd Legion Augusta.