Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > Italy
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Italy: Vols. XI–XIII.  1876–79.
 
Modena
The Sleeping Figure
Bryan Waller Procter (1787–1874)
 
UPON a couch of silk and gold
A pale enchanted lady lies,
And o’er her many a frowning fold
Of crimson shades her closed eyes;
And shadowy creatures round her rise,        5
And ghosts of women masqued in woe,
And many a phantom pleasure flies,
And lovers slain—ah, long ago!
 
The lady, pale as now she sleeps,
An age upon that couch hath lain,        10
Yet in one spot a spirit keeps
His mansion, like a red-rose stain;
And, when lovers’ ghosts complain,
Blushes like a new-born flower,
Or as some bright dream of pain        15
Dawneth through the darkest hour.
 
Once,—but many a thought hath fled
Since the time whereof I speak,—
Once, the sleeping lady bred
Beauty in her burning cheek,        20
And the lovely morn did break
Through the azure of her eyes,
And her heart was warm and meek,
And her hope was in the skies.
 
But the lady loved at last,        25
And the passion pained her soul,
And her hope away was cast
Far beyond her own control;
And the clouded thoughts that roll
Through the midnight of the mind        30
O’er her eyes of azure stole,
Till they grew deject and blind.
 
He to whom her heart was given,
When May-music was in tune,
Dared forsake that amorous heaven,        35
Changed and careless soon!—
O, what is all beneath the moon
When his heart will answer not!
What are all the dreams of noon
With our love forgot!        40
 
Heedless of the world she went,
Sorrow’s daughter, meek and lone,
Till some spirit downwards bent
And struck her to this sleep of stone.
Look! Did old Pygmalion        45
Sculpture thus, or more prevail,
When he drew the living tone
From the marble pale?
 
 
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