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Oscar Wilde (1854–1900).  Poems.  1881.

17. Rome Unvisited


I.

THE corn has turned from grey to red,
 
  Since first my spirit wandered forth 
  From the drear cities of the north, 
And to Italia’s mountains fled. 
  
And here I set my face towards home,         5
  For all my pilgrimage is done, 
  Although, methinks, yon blood-red sun 
Marshals the way to Holy Rome. 
  
O Blessed Lady, who dost hold 
  Upon the seven hills thy reign!  10
  O Mother without blot or stain, 
Crowned with bright crowns of triple gold! 
  
O Roma, Roma, at thy feet 
  I lay this barren gift of song! 
  For, ah! the way is steep and long  15
That leads unto thy sacred street. 
  
II.

And yet what joy it were for me
 
  To turn my feet unto the south, 
  And journeying towards the Tiber mouth 
To kneel again at Fiesole!  20
  
And wandering through the tangled pines 
  That break the gold of Arno’s stream, 
  To see the purple mist and gleam 
Of morning on the Apennines. 
  
By many a vineyard-hidden home,  25
  Orchard, and olive-garden grey, 
  Till from the drear Campagna’s way 
The seven hills bear up the dome! 
  
III.

A pilgrim from the northern seas—
 
  What joy for me to seek alone  30
  The wondrous Temple, and the throne 
Of Him who holds the awful keys! 
  
When, bright with purple and with gold, 
  Come priest and holy Cardinal, 
  And borne above the heads of all  35
The gentle Shepherd of the Fold. 
  
O joy to see before I die 
  The only God-anointed King, 
  And hear the silver trumpets ring 
A triumph as He passes by!  40
  
Or at the altar of the shrine 
  Holds high the mystic sacrifice, 
  And shows a God to human eyes 
Beneath the veil of bread and wine. 
  
IV.

For lo, what changes time can bring!
  45
  The cycles of revolving years 
  May free my heart from all its fears,— 
And teach my lips a song to sing. 
  
Before yon field of trembling gold 
  Is garnered into dusty sheaves,  50
  Or ere the autumn’s scarlet leaves 
Flutter as birds adown the wold, 
  
I may have run the glorious race, 
  And caught the torch while yet aflame, 
  And called upon the holy name  55
Of Him who now doth hide His face. 


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