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, Churches of
The Lateran Cloisters
Bessie Rayner Parkes (1829–1925)
 
THE VERY roses, thick with bloom,
  Are golden in the golden light;
What sanctifies that belt of gloom?
  What makes this court so bright?
 
Are other pillars half so rich,        5
  So dainty delicate as these,
Which curl and twist like woodland niche
  Set in a frame of trees!
 
Two legendary stones are here,
  And cast a mystery round the spot;        10
Let none to whom his Lord is dear
  Say, he believes them not!
 
Behold the well where Jesus stayed,
  (The heart which questioned also nigh!)
And, “wearied with his journey” bade        15
  To fountains never dry.
 
Until for her who stood beside,
  His words alone sufficed,
And as she went her way, she cried,
  “But is not this the Christ?”        20
 
See measured on that pillar’s round
  The stature of his sacred head;
Let that be counted holy ground
  Of which such things are said.
 
And do not weigh what men believe,        25
  When thus from age to age is told
A tale which eager hearts receive
  With love that grows not cold.
 
A garden blessed by many prayers,
  And centuries of sacred fame,        30
A pilgrim’s tender footstep spares,
  If only for the claim!
 
So pluck the golden Lateran rose
  Which blooms about each ancient stone;—
And faith which towards a legend flows        35
  Shall not be left alone!
 
 
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