Ruins

remains of human-made architecture
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Ruins are the remains of human-made architecture: structures that were once complete, as time went by, have fallen into a state of partial or complete disrepair, due to lack of maintenance or deliberate acts of destruction. Natural disaster, war and depopulation are the most common root causes, with many structures becoming progressively derelict over time due to long-term weathering and scavenging.

My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair! —Percy Bysshe Shelley
Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
—Percy Bysshe Shelley
He meets some fragment huge, and stops to guess
What powerful but unrecorded race
Once dwelt in that annihilated place.
Horace Smith

Quotes

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I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desart.[sic] Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

We wonder — and some Hunter may express
Wonder like ours, when thro' the wilderness
Where London stood, holding the Wolf in chace,
He meets some fragment huge, and stops to guess
What powerful but unrecorded race
Once dwelt in that annihilated place.

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations

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Babylon is fallen, is fallen. —Book of Isaiah
 
History fades into fable; fact becomes clouded with doubt and controversy; the inscription moulders from the tablet: the statue falls from the pedestal. Columns, arches, pyramids, what are they but heaps of sand; and their epitaphs, but characters written in the dust? — Washington Irving
 
For, to make deserts, God, who rules mankind,
Begins with kings, and ends the work by wind. —Victor Hugo
Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 686-88.
  • Should the whole frame of nature round him break
    In ruin and confusion hurled,
    He, unconcerned, would hear the mighty crack,
    And stand secure amidst a falling world.
  • And when 'midst fallen London they survey
    The stone where Alexander's ashes lay,
    Shall own with humble pride the lesson just
    By Time's slow finger written in the dust.
  • There is a temple in ruin stands,
    Fashion'd by long forgotten hands:
    Two or three columns, and many a stone,
    Marble and granite, with grass o'ergrown!
  • While in the progress of their long decay,
    Thrones sink to dust, and nations pass away.
  • What cities, as great as this, have … promised themselves immortality! Posterity can hardly trace the situation of some. The sorrowful traveller wanders over the awful ruins of others…. Here stood their citadel, but now grown over with weeds; there their senate-house, but now the haunt of every noxious reptile; temples and theatres stood here, now only an undistinguished heap of ruins.
  • The ruins of himself! now worn away
    With age, yet still majestic in decay.
    • Homer, The Odyssey, Book XXIV, line 271. Pope's translation.
  • For, to make deserts, God, who rules mankind,
    Begins with kings, and ends the work by wind.
  • History fades into fable; fact becomes clouded with doubt and controversy; the inscription moulders from the tablet: the statue falls from the pedestal. Columns, arches, pyramids, what are they but heaps of sand; and their epitaphs, but characters written in the dust?
  • When I have been indulging this thought I have, in imagination, seen the Britons of some future century, walking by the banks of the Thames, then overgrown with weeds and almost impassable with rubbish. The father points to his son where stood St. Paul's, the Monument, the Bank, the Mansion House, and other places of the first distinction.
    • London Magazine, 1745. Article, Humorous Thoughts on the Removal of the Seat of Empire and Commerce.
  • Gaudensque viam fecisse ruina.
    • And rejoicing that he has made his way by ruin.
    • Lucanus, Pharsalia, Book I. 150 (referring to Julius Cæsar).
  • She [the Roman Catholic Church] may still exist in undiminished vigour, when some traveller from New Zealand shall, in the midst of a vast solitude, take his stand on a broken arch of London Bridge to sketch the ruins of St. Paul's.
    • Thomas Babington Macaulay, 1st Baron Macaulay, Ranke's History of the Popes. Same idea in his Review of Mitford's Greece. Last Par. (1824). Also in his Review of Mill's Essay on Government. (1829). Same thought also in Poems of a Young Nobleman lately deceased—supposed to be written by Thomas, second Lord Lyttleton, describing particularly the State of England, and the once flourishing City of London. In a letter from an American Traveller, dated from the Ruinous Portico of St. Paul's, in the year 2199, to a friend settled in Boston, the Metropolis of the Western Empire. (1771). The original said to be taken from Louis S. Mercier—L'An Deux Mille Quatre Cent-Quarante. Written 1768, pub. 1770. Disowned in part by his executors.
  • For such a numerous host
    Fled not in silence through the frighted deep
    With ruin upon ruin, rout on rout,
    Confusion worse confounded.
  • Prostrate the beauteous ruin lies; and all
    That shared its shelter, perish in its fall.
  • In the firm expectation that when London shall be a habitation of bitterns, when St. Paul and Westminster Abbey shall stand shapeless and nameless ruins in the midst of an unpeopled marsh, when the piers of Waterloo Bridge shall become the nuclei of islets of reeds and osiers, and cost the jagged shadows of their broken arches on the solitary stream, some Transatlantic commentator will be weighing in the scales of some new and now unimagined system of criticism the respective merits of the Bells and the Fudges and their historians.
  • Behold this ruin! 'Twas a skull
    Once of ethereal spirit full!
    This narrow cell was Life's retreat;
    This place was Thought's mysterious seat!
    What beauteous pictures fill'd that spot,
    What dreams of pleasure, long forgot!
    Nor Love, nor Joy, nor Hope, nor Fear,
    Has left one trace, one record here.
    • Anna Jane Vardill (Mrs. James Niven.) Appeared in European Magazine, Nov., 1816, with signature V. Since said to have been found near a skeleton in the Royal College of Surgeons, Lincoln's Inn, London. Falsely claimed for J. D. Gordman. Robert Philip claims it in a newspaper pub. 1826.
  • Etiam quæ sibi quisque timebat
    Unius in miseri exitium conversa tulere
    .
    • What each man feared would happen to himself, did not trouble him when he saw that it would ruin another.
    • Virgil, Æneid (29-19 BC), II. 130.
  • Who knows but that hereafter some traveller like myself will sit down upon the banks of the Seine, the Thames, or the Zuyder Zee, where now, in the tumult of enjoyment, the heart and the eyes are too slow to take in the multitude of sensations? Who knows but he will sit down solitary amid silent ruins, and weep a people inurned and their greatness changed into an empty name?
  • The next Augustan age will dawn on the other side of the Atlantic. There will, perhaps, be a Thucydides at Boston, a Xenophon at New York, in time a Vergil at Mexico, and a Newton at Peru. At last some curious traveller from Lima will visit England, and give a description of the ruins of St. Paul's, like the editions of Balbec and Palmyra.
  • I do love these ancient ruins.
    We never tread upon them but we set
    Our foot upon some reverend history.
  • Where now is Britain?
    * * * *
    Even as the savage sits upon the stone
    That marks where stood her capitols, and hears
    The bittern booming in the weeds, he shrinks
    From the dismaying solitude.
  • Final Ruin fiercely drives
    Her ploughshare o'er creation.
    • Edward Young, Night Thoughts (1742-1745), Night IX, line 167.
  • The value of ruins is still today directly dependent on the degree to which their destruction is visible, for that allows their very status as cultural heritage to be experienced directly.
    • Holtorf, Cornelius (2006), "Can less be more? Heritage in the age of terrorism", Public Archaeology 5 (2): 107, doi:10.1179/pua.2006.5.2.101 
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