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.
 
Rome, Ruins of
Minerva Medica
Bessie Rayner Parkes (1829–1925)
 
IN ancient Rome a temple stands,
  Around whose aged feet
The tide flows up from many lands,
  And eddies through the street;
 
The human tide that ceaseless pours        5
  To break its waves on Rome,
And gathers from a thousand shores
  Its scallop shells and foam.
 
That temple’s shrines are empty now,
  Its altars dark and bare,        10
The goddess of the marble brow
  No longer worshipped there.
 
No longer wings her spells abroad
  The fevered pulse to heal,
And unrelenting, if implored,        15
  Were deaf to each appeal.
 
“Restore, restore,” she scorns to say,
  “The homage which ye gave,
And when laborious pains ye pay,
  I will consent to save.”        20
 
Her home was on the radiant shores
  Where snow-white Athens shines;
How beautiful her servitors,
  How stately were her shrines!
 
And how, from farthest east to west,        25
  And by the unknown sea,
What goddess was so well beloved,
  So much revered, as she!
 
A sweeter faith is now enshrined
  In Athens and in Rome;        30
Her honors everywhere declined,
  Her priests without a home.
 
And even what she nobly taught,
  And what she symbolled then,
Is banished out of human thought,        35
  And quite forgot by men.
 
And yet methinks her statue stands,
  And makes a mute appeal,
“Give helpful blessing, all ye lands,
  On women bent to heal.”        40
 
 
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