Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

(27 February 1807 – 24 March 1882 / Portland, Maine)

Italian Scenery - Poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Night rests in beauty on Mont Alto.
Beneath its shade the beauteous Arno sleeps
In vallombrosa's bosom, and dark trees
Bend with a calm and quiet shadow down
Upon the beauty of that silent river.

Still in the west a melancholy smile
Mantles the lips of day, and twilight pale
Moves like a spectre in the dusky sky,
While eve's sweet star on the fast-fading year
Smiles calmly. Music steals at intervals
Across the water, with a tremulous swell,
From out the upland dingle of tall firs;
And a faint footfall sounds, where, dim and dark,
Hangs the gray willow from the river's brink,
O'ershadowing its current. Slowly there
The lover's gondola drops down the stream,
Silent, save when its dipping oar is heard,
Or in its eddy sighs the rippling wave.
Mouldering and moss-grown through the lapse of years,
In motionless beauty stands the giant oak;
Whilst those that saw its green and flourishing youth
Are gone and are forgotten. Soft the fount,
Whose secret springs the star-light pale discloses,
Gushes in hollow music; and beyond
The broader river sweeps its silent way,
Mingling a silver current with that sea,
Whose waters have no tides, coming nor going.
On noiseless wing along that fair blue sea
The halcyon flits; and where the wearied storm
Left a loud moaning, all is peace again.

A calm is on the deep. The winds that came
O'er the dark sea-surge with a tremulous breathing,
And mourned on the dark cliff where weeds grew rank,
And to the autumnal death-dirge the deep sea
Heaved its long billows, with a cheerless song
Have passed away to the cold earth again,
Like a wayfaring mourner. Silently
Up from the calm sea's dim and distant verge,
Full and unveiled, the moon's broad disk emerges.
On Tivoli, and where the fairy hues
Of autumn glow upon Abruzzi's woods,
The silver light is spreading. Far above,
Encompassed with their thin, cold atmosphere,
The Apennines uplift their snowy brows,
Glowing with colder beauty, where unheard
The eagle screams in the fathomless, ether,
And stays his wearied wing. Here let us pause.
The spirit of these solitudes -- the soul
That dwells within these steep and difficult places--
Spearks a mysterious language to mine own,
And brings unutterable musings. Earth
Sleeps in the shades of nightfall, and the sea
Spreads like a thin blue haze beneath my feet;
Whilst the gray columns and the mouldering tombs
Of the Imperial City, hidden deep
Beneath the mantle of their shadows, rest.

My spirit looks on earth. A heavnly voice
Comes silently: 'Dreamer, is earth thy dwelling?
Lo! Nursed within that fair and fruitful bosom,
Which has sustained thy being, and within
The colder breast of Ocean, lie the germs
Of thine own dissolution! E'en the air,
That fans the clear blue sky, and gives thee strength,
Up from the sullen lake of mouldering reeds,
And the wide waste of forest, where the osier
Thrives in the damp and motionless atmosphere,
Shall bring the dire and wasting pestilence,
And blight they cheek. Dram thou of higher things:
This world is not thy home!' And yet my eye
Rests upon earth again. How beautiful,
Where wild Velino heaves its sullen aves
Down the high cliff of gray and shapeless granite,
Hung on the curling mist, the moonlight bow
Arches the perilous river! A soft light
Silvers the Albanian mountains, and the haze
That rests upon their summits mellows down
The austerer features of their beauty. Faint
And dim-discovered glow, the Sabine hills;
And, listening to the sea's monotonous shell,
High on the cliffs of Terracina stands
The castle of the royal Goth* in ruins.

But night is in her wane: day's early flush
Glows like a hectic on her fading cheek,
Wasting its beauty. And the opening dawn
With cheerful luster lights the royal city,
Where, with its proud tiara of dark towers,
It sleeps upon its own romantic bay.


Comments about Italian Scenery by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

  • Fabrizio Frosini (11/15/2015 11:03:00 AM)


    the first lines are dedicated to Tuscany:
    - the river Arno
    - Vallombrosa [a beautiful place, where a Benedictine abbey -declared national monument in XX century- can be seen (year of foundation,1036) . Also a beautiful forest (almost pristine) is there]
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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, March 30, 2010



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