Verse > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow > Complete Poetical Works
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882).  Complete Poetical Works.  1893.
 
Birds of Passage
Flight the Second.
Enceladus
 
          Written February 3, 1859. “I have written,” says Mr. Longfellow in a letter to Mr. Sumner, “a lyric on Italy, entitled Enceladus, from which title your imagination can construct the poem. It is not a war-song, but a kind of lament for the woes of the country.” Mr. Longfellow used the money paid him for the poem, which appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, August, 1859, in aid of the Italian widows and the soldiers wounded in the war then going on for the deliverance of Italy from Austrian rule.

UNDER Mount Etna he lies,
  It is slumber, it is not death;
For he struggles at times to arise,
And above him the lurid skies
  Are hot with his fiery breath.        5
 
The crags are piled on his breast,
  The earth is heaped on his head;
But the groans of his wild unrest,
Though smothered and half suppressed,
  Are heard, and he is not dead.        10
 
And the nations far away
  Are watching with eager eyes;
They talk together and say,
“To-morrow, perhaps to-day,
  Enceladus will arise!”        15
 
And the old gods, the austere
  Oppressors in their strength,
Stand aghast and white with fear
At the ominous sounds they hear,
  And tremble, and mutter, “At length!”        20
 
Ah me! for the land that is sown
  With the harvest of despair!
Where the burning cinders, blown
From the lips of the overthrown
  Enceladus, fill the air;        25
 
Where ashes are heaped in drifts
  Over vineyard and field and town,
Whenever he starts and lifts
His head through the blackened rifts
  Of the crags that keep him down.        30
 
See, see! the red light shines!
  ’T is the glare of his awful eyes!
And the storm-wind shouts through the pines
Of Alps and of Apennines,
  “Enceladus, arise!”        35
 
 
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