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.
 
Etna (Ætna), the Mountain
Mount Etna
Matthew Arnold (1822–1888)
 
(See full text.)

HOW gracious is the mountain at this hour!
A thousand times have I been here alone
Or with the revellers from the mountain towns,
But never on so fair a morn;—the sun
Is shining on the brilliant mountain-crests,        5
And on the highest pines; but further down
Here in the valley is in shade; the sward
Is dark, and on the stream the mist still hangs;
One sees one’s footprints crushed in the wet grass,
One’s breath curls in the air; and on these pines        10
That climb from the stream’s edge, the long gray tufts,
Which the goats love, are jewelled thick with dew.
*        *        *        *        *
The noon is hot; when we have crossed the stream
We shall have left the woody tract, and come
Upon the open shoulder of the hill.        15
See how the giant spires of yellow bloom
Of the sun-loving gentian, in the heat,
Are shining on those naked slopes like flame!
Let us rest here.
*        *        *        *        *
The track winds down to the clear stream        20
To cross the sparkling shallows; there
The cattle love to gather, on their way
To the high mountain pastures, and to stay
Till the rough cow-herds drive them past,
Knee-deep in the cool ford; for ’t is the last        25
Of all the woody, high, well-watered dells
On Etna; and the beam
Of noon is broken there by chestnut boughs
Down its steep verdant sides; the air
Is freshened by the leaping stream, which throws        30
Eternal showers of spray on the mossed roots
Of trees, and veins of turf, and long dark shoots
Of ivy-plants, and fragrant hanging bells
Of hyacinths, and on late anemones,
That muffle its wet banks; but glade        35
And stream and sward and chestnut-trees
End here; Etna beyond, in the broad glare
Of the hot noon, without a shade,
Slope behind slope, up to the peak, lies bare;
The peak round which the white clouds play.        40
 
 
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