The Ruin

The Ruin

by Matthew Hollis

Rare is this wrought-work, pulled down by design;
civilities collapse: even giants must die.
The roofs unroofed, the towers are down,
their beams unburdened and frost-locked.
All that was raised has fallen,
all in time undermined. Grasped
in the ground in the harsh, gripped
ground: the makers and masons,
their centuries’ kin. Time and again,
bone grey and blooded, this wall
saw storms and stood; no more.

Here There Was A Fire.

The mind knew what must be done –
bind the ties, secure the rings,
a foundation of chains – it knew wonders:
such space to move in, such waters to draw,
such far-sight and vantage that voices would sing,
having seen their own tale to sing about.
And then came the change.
And the wrecking was absolute. The end of days.
An end takes even the brave.
Defence gave way to wasteland,
strongholds knelt in the rubble. Those who might have repaired
were nowhere to be found. And now these halls lie empty,
no shade afforded by the
bare roofs, where company once had cause,
something in which to believe:
plans of purpose, the splendour of tomorrow,
vine-ripe, and war-shined;
so much of value to look upon, so precious,
the sheer stones of the earth
and all that came from them:
an unshakable house, a hot spring,
a garden walled on three sides,
some place to bathe,
to heat the heart. That was a moment.

Summary of The Ruin

  • Popularity of “The Ruin”: “The Ruin” by some anonymous author and translated by Matthew Hollis, an English writer, editor, academic, and poet, is a classical poetic piece. Written by some anonymous writer, this 18th century poem has achieved greatness on account of its unique and bold stand it has taken on the lamentation of the effete civilization. Its beauty lies in its universal appeal to the readers.
  • The Ruin” As a Representative of Change: The anonymous poet beautifully opens the poem saying the ruin of some building shows that it has been a rare work with a rare design, and a huge construction. The poet surmises that giants must have been used to construct such a mammoth building. The ruins also show that now the roofs and towers are down, and beams have given way to time. Everything has crumbled down, showing the hard work of masons and makers doing down the drain of time. Some walls show skeletons left, while others show the works of storms and gales. In the second part, the poet praises the mind and the wonders that it has created. Using anaphoric points for the creation of the mind, he goes on to say that it has been excellent at the end as the end shows that even defenses have given ways to wastelands. Even the masons who were assigned to repair are no more alive. The halls, the roofs, the grandeur, and the garden walls are lying in shambles.
  • Major Themes in “The Ruin”: The destruction of civilization, the passing of time, and the ravages of time are three major themes of the poem. The entire poem shows the grandeur, glory, and pomp and show of the Anglo Saxon civilization and the ravages of time. It shows that time does not leave anything. It turns everything into ruins. Whether there are towers, halls, roofs, high beams, pillars, or obelisks, it turns them into rubble. Even the names of the masons and workers die with the buildings. Therefore, time is the greatest destroyer, the poet wants to say, adding that it is the current movement that matters.

Analysis of Literary Devices Used In The Ruin

literary devices make poems impressive in multidimensional ways. The anonymous poet has also used some literary devices in this poem whose analysis is as follows.

  1. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line such as the sound of /o/ in “Rare is this wrought-work, pulled down by design” the sound of /e/ in “their beams unburdened and frost-locked” and again the sound of /a/ in “such space to move in, such waters to draw.”
  2. Alliteration: The poem shows the use of alliteration in the shape of initial consonant sounds of the neighboring words such as the sound of /s/ and /w/ in “such space”, “wrecking was” respectively.
  3. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line such as the sound of /s/ and /w/ in “such space to move in, such waters to draw” and the sound of /w/ and /l/ in “were nowhere to be found. And now these halls lie empty,.”
  4. Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. Matthew Hollis has used imagery in this poem such as “Defence gave way to wasteland”, “strongholds knelt in the rubble” and “And now these halls lie empty.”
  5. Metaphor: It is a figure of speech in which an implied comparison is made between the objects that are different. The poet has used the extended metaphor of time that wreaks havoc with everything.
  6. Oxymoron: The poem shows the use of oxymoron that means to use contradictory terms with each other such as “roofs unroofed.”
  7. Symbolism: Symbolism is using symbols to signify ideas and qualities, giving them symbolic meanings different from literal meanings. The poem shows the use of symbols such as roofs, space, water, halls, and walls to show the ravages of time.

Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in The Ruin

Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is the analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.

  1. Diction and Tone: The poem shows the use of descriptive diction and a serious tone.
  2. Free Verse: The poem does not follow any strict rhyming pattern or stanza form. Therefore, it is a free verse poem.
  3. Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. There are two parts with no stanza in the poem.

Quotes to be Used

These lines from “The Ruin” are appropriate to quote when talking about the impossible happenings or tasks.

And the wrecking was absolute. The end of days.
An end takes even the brave.
Defence gave way to wasteland,
strongholds knelt in the rubble.