Robert Laurence Binyon

(1869-1943 / England)

Umbria - Poem by Robert Laurence Binyon

Deep Italian day with a wide--washed splendour fills
Umbria green with valleys, blue with a hundred hills.
Dim in the south Soracte, a far rock faint as a cloud
Rumours Rome, that of old spoke over earth, ``Thou art mine!''
Mountain shouldering mountain circles us forest--browed
Heaped upon each horizon in fair uneven line;
And white as on builded altars tipped with a vestal flame
City on city afar from the thrones of the mountains shine,
Kindling, for us that name them, many a memoried fame,
Out of the murmuring ages, flushing the heart like wine.
Pilgrim--desired Assisi is there; Spoleto proud
With Rome's imperial arches, with hanging woods divine:
Monte Falco hovers above the hazy vale
Of sweet Clitumnus loitering under poplars pale;
O'er Foligno, Trevi clings upon Apennine.
And over this Umbrian earth--from where with bright snow spread
Towers abrupt Leonessa, huge, like a dragon's chine,
To western Ammiata's mist--apparelled head,
Ammiata, that sailors watch on wide Tyrrhenian waves,--
Lie in the jealous gloom of cold and secret shrine
Or Gorgon--sculptured chamber hewn in old rock caves,
Hiding their dreams from the light, the austere Etruscan dead.
O lone forests of oak and little cyclamens red
Flowering under shadowy silent boughs benign!
Streams that wander beneath us over a pebbly bed!
Hedges of dewy hawthorn and wild woodbine!
Now as the eastern ranges flush and the high air chills
Blurring meadowy vale, blackening heaths of pine,
Now as in distant Todi, loftily--towered--a sign
To wearying travellers--lights o'er hollow Tiber gleam,
Now our voices are stilled and our eyes are given to a dream,
As night, upbringing o'er us the ancient stars anew,
Stars that triumphing Caesar and tender Francis knew,
With fancied voices mild, august, immortal, fills
Umbria dim with valleys, dark with a hundred hills.

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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, September 1, 2010

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