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, the Protestant Burial-Ground
Two Graves at Rome
Francis Turner Palgrave (1824–1897)
 
SAINTS and Cæsars are here,
Bishops of Rome and the world,
Rulers by love and by fear:—
Those who in purple and gold
Pranked and lorded it here;        5
Those who in sackcloth and shame
Elected their limbs to enfold,
Scornful of pleasure and fame:
—Ah, they had their reward!
There is something else that I seek        10
    On the flowery sward,
By the pile of Cestius, here!
 
Is it but two stones like the rest
Fondly preserving a name
Elsewhere unheeded of fame,        15
Set here by love, and left
To gather gray, like the rest?
—Psha! ’T is the fate of man!
We are wretched, we are bereft
Of all that gave life its plan,        20
The sunbeam and treasure of yore;
We lay it in earth and are gone;
    Then, as before,
We laugh and forget, like the rest.
 
A transient name on the stone,        25
A transient love in the heart;
We have our day and are gone:—
—But it is not so with these!
There is life and love in the stone;—
Names of beauty and light        30
Over all lands and seas
They have gone forth in their might:
Warmer and higher beats
The general heart at the words
    Shelley and Keats:—        35
There is life and love in the stone!
 
He with the gleaming eyes
And glances gentle and wild,
The angel eternal child;
His heart could not throb like ours,        40
He could not see with our eyes
Dimmed with the dulness of earth,
Blind with the bondage of hours;
Yet none with diviner mirth
Hailed what was noble and sweet:        45
The blood-tracked journey of life,
    The way-sore feet
None have watched with more human eyes.
 
And he who went first to the tomb—
Rejoice, great souls of the dead!        50
For none in that earlier Rome
Took a bolder and lordlier heart
To the all-receiving tomb:
No richer, more equable eye,
No tongue of more musical art        55
Conversed with the Gods on high,
Among all the minstrels who made
Sweetness ’tween Etna and Alp:
    Nor was any laid
With such music and tears in the tomb.        60
 
—What seek ye, my comrades at Rome?
To see and be seen at the gay
Meet on the Appian Way,
Or within the tall palace at eve
To dance out your season at Rome?        65
To muse on the giants of old,
In the Forum at twilight to grieve?
It is more that these ruins enfold!
Warmer and higher beats
The Englishman’s heart at the words,        70
    Shelley and Keats!
And here is the heart of our Rome.
 
 
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