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.
 
Vallombrosa
Vallombrosa
John Edmund Reade (1800–1870)
 
(From Italy)

  DARK Vallombrosa! thy Etrurian shade
  Is hallowed by a spell that is not thine:
  A spirit lingers here that doth pervade
  Thy sanctuary: earth is made divine
  From human memories, when upon each line        5
  Of her calm brow the signet is confessed;
  Memnonian image! as, with touches fine
  Morn’s fingers music from its bosom pressed,
So genius kindles life from thy responsive breast.
 
  Doubt’st thou her inspirations? lo, yon peaks        10
  Titanic, burying their spears in heaven
  As if they dared the thunder, or where breaks
  Through mist and foam yon torrents headlong driven,
  Hurled over trees and precipices riven:
  Hark! to their roar in yon Tartarean dell,        15
  Ravings as of the tortured unforgiven;
  Type they not elder faiths to us and tell
The strife of powers opposed, the war of heaven and hell?
 
  Lo! round the mountain’s scathed sides like a wall,
  Pines lightning-blasted, wear such forms as wore        20
  The thunder-stricken angels: like a pall
  The up-seething mists rise shrouding white and hoar,
  Forests all crushed, still raising from the roar
  Of waters their wild branches red and sere,
  Thick as the weeds on ocean’s surf-heaped shore;        25
  This is the vale of shadow, pause thou here
Where deathless Milton trod, the sacred ground revere.
 
  O, while these autumn leaves are round me lying,
  While thy Etrurian shades o’erarched embower,
  While the wind seems thy voice to mine replying,        30
  Bard of lost Paradise, I call thee, power
  That liv’st among us, hear! while the clouds lower,
  And the leaves mount the whirlwind, I would be
  Conscious of thy great presence in this hour:
  I would behold thee, like the prophet, flee        35
Heavenward, but left on earth thy robe of prophecy.
 
 
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