You who arrive to look for Rome in Rome And can in Rome no Rome you know discover: These palaces and arches ivied over And ancient walls are Rome, now Rome’s a name.
Here see Rome’s overbearing overcome— Rome, who brought the world beneath her power And held sway, robbed of sway: see and consider Rome the prey of all-consuming time.
And yet this Rome is Rome’s one monument. Rome alone could conquer Rome. And the one element Of constancy in Rome is the ongoing
Seaward rush of Tiber. O world of flux Where time destroys what’s steady as the rocks And what resists time is what’s ever flowing.
from Les Antiquités de Rome [End Page 7]
Seamus Heaney (1939–2013) was an Irish poet, playwright, translator, and recipient of the 1995 Nobel Prize in Literature. His most recent poetry collections are Electric Light (2001), District and Circle (2006), and Human Chain (2010). Several of his poems were published previously in New England Review, including “Field Work,” which appeared in the first issue of the magazine, Volume 1, #1.