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 Campagna
The Campagna of Rome
Samuel Rogers (1763–1855)
 
(From Italy)

HAVE none appeared as tillers of the ground,
None since they went, as though it still were theirs,
And they might come and claim their own again?
Was the last plough a Roman’s?
                            From this seat,
Sacred for ages, whence, as Virgil sings,        5
The Queen of Heaven, alighting from the sky,
Looked down and saw the armies in array,
Let us contemplate; and, where dreams from Jove
Descended on the sleeper, where perhaps
Some inspirations may be lingering still,        10
Some glimmerings of the future or the past,
Let us await their influence; silently
Revolving, as we rest on the green turf,
The changes from that hour when he from Troy
Came up the Tiber; when refulgent shields,        15
No strangers to the iron-hail of war,
Streamed far and wide, and dashing oars were heard
Among those woods where Silvia’s stag was lying,
His antlers gay with flowers; among those woods
Where by the moon, that saw and yet withdrew not,        20
Two were so soon to wander and be slain,
Two lovely in their lives, nor in their death
Divided.
            Then, and hence to be discerned,
How many realms, pastoral and warlike, lay
Along this plain, each with its schemes of power,        25
Its little rivalships! What various turns
Of fortune there; what moving accidents
From ambuscade and open violence!
Mingling, the sounds came up; and hence how oft
We might have caught among the trees below,        30
Glittering with helm and shield, the men of Tibur;
Or in Greek vesture, Greek their origin,
Some embassy, ascending to Præneste;
How oft descried, without thy gates, Aricia,
Entering the solemn grove for sacrifice,        35
Senate and people! Each a busy hive,
Glowing with life!
                    But all erelong are lost
In one. We look, and where the river rolls
Southward its shining labyrinth, in her strength
A city, girt with battlements and towers,        40
On seven small hills is rising. Round about,
At rural work, the citizens are seen,
None unemployed; the noblest of them all
Binding their sheaves or on their threshing-floors,
As though they had not conquered. Everywhere        45
Some trace of valor or heroic toil!
Here is the sacred field of the Horatii.
There are the Quintian meadows. Here the Hill
How holy, where a generous people, twice,
Twice going forth, in terrible anger sate        50
Armed; and, their wrongs redressed, at once gave way.
Helmet and shield and sword and spear thrown down,
And every hand uplifted, every heart
Poured out in thanks to Heaven.
                            Once again
We look; and lo, the sea is white with sails        55
Innumerable, wafting to the shore
Treasures untold; the vale, the promontories,
A dream of glory; temples, palaces,
Called up as by enchantment; aqueducts
Among the groves and glades rolling along        60
Rivers, on many an arch high overhead;
And in the centre, like a burning sun,
The Imperial city! They have now subdued
All nations. But where they who led them forth;
Who, when at length released by victory        65
(Buckler and spear hung up, but not to rust),
Held poverty no evil, no reproach,
Living on little with a cheerful mind,
The Decii, the Fabricii? Where the spade
And reaping-hook, among their household things        70
Duly transmitted? In the hands of men
Made captive; while the master and his guests,
Reclining, quaff in gold, and roses swim,
Summer and winter, through the circling year,
On their Falernian,—in the hands of men        75
Dragged into slavery with how many more
Spared but to die, a public spectacle,
In combat with each other, and required
To fall with grace, with dignity,—to sink
While life is gushing, and the plaudits ring        80
Faint and yet fainter on their failing ear,
As models for the sculptor.
                        But their days,
Their hours are numbered. Hark, a yell, a shriek,
A barbarous outcry, loud and louder yet,
That echoes from the mountains to the sea!        85
And mark, beneath us, like a bursting cloud,
The battle moving onward! Had they slain
All, that the earth should from her womb bring forth
New nations to destroy them? From the depth
Of forests, from what none had dared explore,        90
Regions of thrilling ice, as though in ice
Engendered, multiplied, they pour along,
Shaggy and huge! Host after host, they come;
The Goth, the Vandal, and again the Goth!
  Once more we look, and all is still as night,        95
All desolate! Groves, temples, palaces,
Swept from the sight; and nothing visible,
Amid the sulphurous vapors that exhale
As from a land accurst, save here and there
An empty tomb, a fragment like the limb        100
Of some dismembered giant. In the midst
A city stands, her domes and turrets crowned
With many a cross; but they that issue forth
Wander like strangers who had built among
The mighty ruins, silent, spiritless;        105
And on the road, where once we might have met
Cæsar and Cato and men more than kings,
We meet, none else, the pilgrim and the beggar.
 
 
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