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, Streets of
Via Felice
Julia Ward Howe (1819–1910)
 
’T WAS in the Via Felice
  My friend his dwelling made,
The Roman Via Felice,
  Half sunshine, half in shade.
 
A marble god stands near it        5
  That once deserved a shrine,
And, veteran of the old world,
  The Barberini pine.
 
A very Roman is he
  Whom age makes not so wise        10
But that each coming winter
  Is still a new surprise.
 
But I lodged near the convent
  Whose bells did hallow noon,
And all the lesser hours        15
  With sweet recurrent tune.
 
They lent their solemn cadence
  To all the thoughtless day;
The heart, so oft it heard them,
  Was lifted up to pray.        20
 
And where the lamp was lighted
  At twilight, on the wall,
Serenely sat Madonna,
  And smiled to bless us all.
 
Those voices, illustrating        25
  Their bargains, from the street,
Shaming Thought’s narrow meanness
  With music infinite.
 
Those men of stately stature,
  Those women, fair of shape,        30
That watched the chestnuts roasting,
  The fig, and clustered grape;
 
All this, my daily pleasure
  That made none poor to give,
Was near the Via Felice        35
  Where Horace loved to live.
 
I see him from the window
  That ne’er my heart forgets,
He buys from yonder maiden
  My morning violets.        40
 
Not ill he chose those flowers
  With mild, reproving eyes,
Emblems of tender chiding,
  And love divinely wise.
 
For his were generous learning        45
  And reconciling art;
O, not with fleeting presence
  My friend and I could part!
 
His work of consolation
  Abode when he was gone,        50
A tower of beauty lifted
  From ruins widely strown.
 
Our own inconstant heavens
  Were o’er us, when we met
Before a longer parting,        55
  Not seen, nor dreamed of, yet.
 
’T was when the Spring’s soft breathing
  Restores the frozen sense,
And Patience, dull with Winter,
  Is glad in recompense.        60
 
There, in our pleasant converse,
  As by one thought, we said:
“This is the Via Felice,
  Where friends together tread.”
 
Again, my friend turned seaward,        65
  Again, athwart the wave
He flung the wayward fortune
  His fiery planet gave.
 
And in that heart of Paris
  That hides distress and wrong,        70
So cold, with show and splendor,
  So dumb, with dance and song;
 
Drawn, by some hidden current
  Of unknown agony,
To seek a throb responsive,        75
  Our Horace sank to die.
 
O, not where he is lying
  With dear ancestral dust,
Not where his household traces
  Grow sad and dim with rust;        80
 
But in the Ancient City
  And from the quaint old door
I ’m watching at my window
  His coming, evermore.
 
For Death’s eternal city        85
  Has yet some happy street;
’T is in the Via Felice
  My friend and I shall meet.
 
 
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