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.
 
Peschiera
Peschiera
Arthur Hugh Clough (1819–1861)
 
WHAT voice did on my spirit fall,
Peschiera, when thy bridge I crost?
“’T is better to have fought and lost
Than never to have fought at all.”
 
The Tricolor, a trampled rag,        5
Lies, dirt and dust; the lines I track,
By sentries’ boxes yellow black,
Lead up to no Italian flag.
 
I see the Croat soldier stand
Upon the grass of your redoubts;        10
The eagle with his black wing flouts
The breadth and beauty of your land.
 
Yet not in vain, although in vain,
O, men of Brescia! on the day
Of loss past hope, I heard you say        15
Your welcome to the noble pain.
 
You said: “Since so it is, good by,
Sweet life, high hope; but whatsoe’er
May be or must, no tongue shall dare
To tell, ‘The Lombard feared to die.’”        20
 
You said (there shall be answer fit):
“And if our children must obey,
They must; but, thinking on this day,
’T will less debase them to submit.”
 
You said (O, not in vain you said):        25
“Haste, brothers, haste, while yet we may;
The hours ebb fast of this one day,
While blood may yet be nobly shed.”
 
Ah! not for idle hatred, not
For honor, fame, nor self-applause,        30
But for the glory of the cause,
You did what will not be forgot.
 
And though the stranger stand, ’t is true,
By force and fortune’s right he stands,—
By fortune, which is in God’s hands,        35
And strength, which yet shall spring in you.
 
This voice did on my spirit fall,
Peschiera, when thy bridge I crost:
“’T is better to have fought and lost
Than never to have fought at all.”        40
 
 
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