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.
 
Riviera
Riviera
The Marquis of Lorne (1845–1914)
 
(From The Story of Guido and Lita)

HAIL, Riviera! hail the mountain-range
That guards from northern winds and seasons’ change
Yon southern spurs, descending fast to be
The sunlit capes along the tideless sea,
Whose waters, azure as the sky above,        5
Reflect the glories of the scene they love!
 
Here every slope and intervening dale
Yields a sweet fragrance to the passing gale,
From the thick woods, where dark caroubas twine
Their massive verdure with the hardier pine,        10
And, mid the rocks, or hid in hollowed cave,
The fern and iris in profusion wave;
From countless terraces, where olives rise,
Unchilled by autumn’s blast or wintry skies,
And round the stems, within the dusky shade,        15
The red anemones their home have made;
From gardens, where its breath forever blows
Through myrtle thickets and their wreaths of rose.
 
Like the proud lords who oft, with clash of mail,
Would daunt the commerce that the trader’s sail        20
Had sought to bring, enriching and to bless,
The lands they plagued with conflict and distress,
Till none but robber chiefs and galley slaves
Ruled the fair shores or rode the tranquil waves,—
So stand their forts upon the hills; with towers        25
Still frowning, sullen at the genial showers,
That, brought on white-winged clouds, have come to dower
The arid soil with recreative power.
 
No warrior’s tread is echoed by their halls,
No warder’s challenge on the silence falls.        30
Around, the thrifty peasants ply their toil
And pluck in orange groves the scented spoil
From trees, that have for purple mountains made
A vestment bright of green, and gold inlaid.
The women, baskets poised above their brows,        35
In long array beneath the citron boughs
Drive on the loaded mules with sound of bells,
That, in the distance, of their presence tells,
To springs that, hid from the pursuing day,
Love only Night; who, loving them, doth stay        40
In the deep waters, moss and reed o’ergrown,—
Or cold in caverns of the chilly stone,—
Sought of the steep-built towns, whose white walls gleam
High midst the woods, or close by ocean’s stream.
 
Like flowering aloes, the fair belfries soar        45
O’er houses clustered on the sandy shore;
From ancient battlements the eye surveys
A hundred lofty peaks and curving bays,
From where, at morn and eve, the sun may paint
The cliffs of Corsica with colors faint;        50
To where the fleets of haughty Genoa plied
The trade that humbled the Venetian’s pride,
And the blue wastes, where roamed the men who came
To leaguer tower and town with sword and flame.
For by that shore, the scene of soft repose        55
When happy Peace her benison bestows,
Have storms, more dire than Nature’s, lashed the coasts,
When met the tides of fierce contending hosts;
From the far days when first Liguria’s hordes
Stemmed for a while the rush of Roman swords,        60
Only to mark how, on their native hill,
Turbia’s trophy stamped the tyrant’s will;
To those bright hours that saw the Moslem reel
Back from the conflict with the Christian steel.
*        *        *        *        *
 
 
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