Nicholas Michell

I stand in Carthage; Dido's city here
Rose into power, and waved her wand of fear;
The seaman hailed her lofty towers afar,
Each gilded palace glittering like a star;
Armies obeyed her nod, a countless host,
And bee-like Commerce hummed along the coast;
Gems, gold — all wealth within her walls was seen,
And tawny Afric bowed, and owned her queen.
City of Hannibal! who not in vain
Swore hate to Rome, and crossed the heaving main,
Climbed with his dauntless bands yon Alpine height,
And southward poured, an av'lanche in his might,
While Rome confessed the terror of his name,
Drooped her bright eye, and hung her head in shame,
For those who sank by Thrasymene's side,
And those whose blood the flowers of Cannae dyed.*
I stand in Carthage: What! no humble town,
No village left to speak her old renown?
Not e'en a tower, a wall? — Oh! ruthless years!
To spare not these to pride, and pity's tears;
Well was avenging Scipio's task performed,
The flames announced it, and the towers he stormed;
But yours hath been far better; desert land,
Where scarce a palm-tree crowns the heaps of sand,
Old mouldering cisterns, rude unshapen stones —
For e'en the graves are gone, and leave no bones —
A half-choked stream, amid whose sedge is heard
The mournful cry of Afric's desert bird, —
These, Carthage, terror once of earth and sea,
Are all dark time hath left to tell of thee.

Author's Note: The passage of Hannibal with his army across the Alps was performed, it is generally thought, over the Little St. Bernard; it took place in the autumn of the year 218 B.C.; and his celebrated victories over the Romans at the lake of Thrasymene and at Cannae, made him master for the time of a great portion of Italy.

Poetry Atlas has many other poems about Tunisia.