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.
 
Ravenna
The Pine Forest of Ravenna
Leigh Hunt (1784–1859)
 
(From The Story of Rimini)

A HEAVY spot the forest looks at first,
To one grim shade condemned, and sandy thirst,
Checkered with thorns, and thistles run to seed,
Or plashy pools half covered with green weed,
About whose sides the swarming insects fry        5
In the hot sun, a noisome company;
But, entering more and more, they quit the sand
At once, and strike upon a grassy land,
From which the trees as from a carpet rise
In knolls and clumps, in rich varieties.        10
The knights are for a moment forced to rein
Their horses in, which, feeling turf again,
Thrill, and curvet, and long to be at large
To scour the space, and give the winds a charge,
Or, pulling tight the bridles as they pass,        15
Dip their warm mouths into the freshening grass:
But soon in easy rank, from glade to glade,
Proceed they, coasting underneath the shade;
Some baring to the cool their placid brows,
Some looking upward through the glimmering boughs,        20
Or peering into spots that inwardly
Open green glooms, and half prepared to see
The lady cross it, that, as stories tell,
Ran loud and torn before a knight of hell.
Various the trees and passing foliage here,—        25
Wild pear, and oak, and dusky juniper,
With briony between in trails of white,
And ivy, and the suckle’s streaky light,
And moss, warm gleaming with a sudden mark,
Like growths of sunshine left upon the bark;        30
And still the pine, flat-topped and dark and tall,
In lordly right predominant o’er all.
Anon the sweet birds, like a sudden throng
Of happy children, ring their tangled song
From out the greener trees; and then a cloud        35
Of cawing rooks breaks o’er them, gathering loud
Like savages at ships; and then again
Nothing is heard but their own stately train,
Or ring-dove that repeats his pensive plea,
Or startled gull up-screaming toward the sea.        40
 
 
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