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.
 
Arquà
Arquà
Samuel Rogers (1763–1855)
 
(From Italy)

THREE leagues from Padua stands and long has stood
(The Paduan student knows it, honors it)
A lonely tomb beside a mountain-church;
And I arrived there as the sun declined
Low in the west. The gentle airs, that breathe        5
Fragrance at eve, were rising, and the birds
Singing their farewell song,—the very song
They sung the night that tomb received a tenant;
When, as alive, clothed in his canon’s stole,
And slowly winding down the narrow path,        10
He came to rest there. Nobles of the land,
Princes and prelates mingled in his train,
Anxious by any act, while yet they could,
To catch a ray of glory by reflection;
And from that hour have kindred spirits flocked        15
From distant countries, from the north, the south,
To see where he is laid.
                    Twelve years ago,
When I descended the impetuous Rhone,
Its vineyards of such great and old renown,
Its castles, each with some romantic tale,        20
Vanishing fast,—the pilot at the stern,
He who had steered so long, standing aloft,
His eyes on the white breakers, and his hands
On what was now his rudder, now his oar,
A huge misshapen plank,—the bark itself        25
Frail and uncouth, launched to return no more,
Such as a shipwrecked man might hope to build,
Urged by the love of home. Twelve years ago,
When like an arrow from the cord we flew,
Two long, long days, silence, suspense on board,        30
It was to offer at thy fount, Vaucluse,
Entering the arched cave, to wander where
Petrarch had wandered, to explore and sit
Where in his peasant-dress he loved to sit,
Musing, reciting,—on some rock moss-grown,        35
Or the fantastic root of some old beech,
That drinks the living waters as they stream
Over their emerald-bed; and could I now
Neglect the place where, in a graver mood,
When he had done and settled with the world,        40
When all the illusions of his youth were fled,
Indulged perhaps too much, cherished too long,
He came for the conclusion? Half-way up
He built his house, whence as by stealth he caught,
Among the hills, a glimpse of busy life        45
That soothed, not stirred. But knock, and enter in.
This was his chamber. ’T is as when he went;
As if he now were in his orchard-grove.
And this his closet. Here he sat and read.
This was his chair; and in it, unobserved,        50
Reading, or thinking of his absent friends,
He passed away as in a quiet slumber.
  Peace to this region! Peace to each, to all!
They know his value,—every coming step,
That draws the gazing children from their play,        55
Would tell them if they knew not. But could aught
Ungentle or ungenerous spring up
Where he is sleeping; where, and in an age
Of savage warfare and blind bigotry,
He cultured all that could refine, exalt;        60
Leading to better things?
 
 
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