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.
 
Como, the Lake
Lake of Como
Samuel Rogers (1763–1855)
 
(From Italy)

I LOVE to sail along the Larian Lake
Under the shore, though not, where’er he dwelt,
To visit Pliny; not, in loose attire,
When from the bath or from the tennis-court,
To catch him musing in his plane-tree walk,        5
Or angling from his window: and, in truth,
Could I recall the ages past and play
The fool with Time, I should perhaps reserve
My leisure for Catullus on his lake,
Though to fare worse, or Virgil at his farm        10
A little further on the way to Mantua.
But such things cannot be. So I sit still,
And let the boatman shift his little sail,
His sail so forked and so swallow-like,
Well pleased with all that comes. The morning air        15
Plays on my cheek how gently, flinging round
A silvery gleam: and now the purple mists
Rise like a curtain; now the sun looks out,
Filling, o’erflowing with his glorious light
This noble amphitheatre of hills;        20
And now appear as on a phosphor sea
Numberless barks, from Milan, from Pavìa;
Some sailing up, some down, and some at rest,
Lading, unlading at that small port-town
Under the promontory,—its tall tower        25
And long flat roofs, just such as Gaspar drew,
Caught by a sunbeam slanting through a cloud;
A quay-like scene, glittering and full of life,
And doubled by reflection.
                        What delight,
After so long a sojourn in the wild,        30
To hear once more the peasant at his work!
But in a clime like this where is he not?
Along the shores, among the hills ’t is now
The heyday of the vintage; all abroad,
But most the young and of the gentler sex,        35
Busy in gathering; all among the vines,
Some on the ladder and some underneath,
Filling their baskets of green wicker-work,
While many a canzonet and frolic laugh
Come through the leaves; the vines in light festoons        40
From tree to tree, the trees in avenues,
And every avenue a covered walk
Hung with black clusters. ’T is enough to make
The sad man merry, the benevolent one
Melt into tears,—so general is the joy!        45
While up and down the cliffs, over the lake,
Wains oxen-drawn and panniered mules are seen,
Laden with grapes and dropping rosy wine.
 
 
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