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

  THE SUN is setting; his last rays are steeping
  In golden hues yon clouds that steadfast keep
  Their station on the far horizon sleeping,
  Breasting the sky yet blended with the deep:
  Lo, from their braided edges glittering creep        5
  Sharp pointed spires, in blue air faintly shown
  O’ershadowed as the sea-mists round them sweep;
  Away, those azure mists are substant grown,
Fair Venice there reclines upon her ocean-throne!
 
  Yea, there she sleeps, while on the waters lying        10
  Her spires and gilded domes reflected shine
  In the rich lustre shed by twilight dying;
  Silent and lone as a deserted shrine
  Reared o’er that mirror’s floating hyaline;
  Ancestral Venice! earth to her bowed down        15
  Deeming her Roman birth should mock decline:
  There still is throned the queen without her crown,
The halo round her forehead of her past renown.
 
  Enter as in the vision of a dream,
  Where all is strange, grotesque, mysterious, wild,        20
  Ye glide through paths that are the ocean stream;
  Mid palaces with sea-green weed defiled,
  Looking desertion, yet unreconciled
  To be the sepulchres of greatness fled:
  Where silence is a presence felt, the child        25
  Of desolation, for ye hear no tread,
No shout, no trump, to wake this city of the dead!
*        *        *        *        *
  Yea, all is here romantic, strange and wild,
  And mystical and dreamlike: lo, the square
  Where domes and spires and minarets are piled,        30
  The ducal hall’s barbaric splendor there,
  The steeds of bronze that glitter in the air
  Bridled: the towering Campanile’s height
  Where Galileo found his starry chair,
  And yonder triple shrine that fills the sight        35
With a strange sense of awe, of marvel, yet delight.
 
  The Greek, the Goth, the Saracenic twined,
  Spires reared o’er Moorish cupolas appear;
  The long arched front, with myriad columns lined:
  Behold, undisciplined by art severe,        40
  The poetry of architecture here:
  Heaped up and as a conqueror’s spoil displayed,
  The o’er-crowded wealth of either hemisphere,
  Enter, where mantled in her deepest shade
Religion hath her own the sanctuary made.        45
 
 
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