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.
 
La Verna (Alverna), the Mountain
The Convent
Bryan Waller Procter (1787–1874)
 
(From Marcian Colonna)

                        THERE is a lofty spot
Visible amongst the mountains Apennine,
Where once a hermit dwelt, not yet forgot
He or his famous miracles divine;
And there the convent of Laverna stands        5
In solitude, built up by saintly hands,
And deemed a wonder in the elder time.
Chasms of the early world are yawning there,
And rocks are seen, craggy and vast and bare,
And many a dizzy precipice sublime,        10
And caverns dark as death, where the wild air
Rushes from all the quarters of the sky:
Above, in all his old regality,
The monarch eagle sits upon his throne,
Or floats upon the desert winds, alone.        15
There, belted round and round by forests drear,
Black pine, and giant beech, and oaks that rear
Their brown diminished heads like shrubs between,
And guarded by a river that is seen
Flashing and wandering through the dell below,        20
Laverna stands. It is a place of woe,
And midst its cold dim aisles and cells of gloom
The pale Franciscan meditates his doom;
An exile from his kind, save some sad few
(Like him imprisoned and devoted), who,        25
Deserting their high natures for the creed
A bigot fashioned in his weaker dreams,
Left love and life (yet love is life, indeed),
And all the wonders of the world,—its gleams
Of joy, of sunshine, fair as those which spring        30
From the great poet’s high imagining,
Sounds, and gay sights, and woman’s words which bless
And carry on their echoes happiness,—
Left all that man inherits, and fell down
To worship in the dust a demon’s crown:        35
For there a phantom of a fearful size,
Shaped out of shadow and cloud, and nursed in pain,
And born of doubt and sorrow, and of the brain
The ever evil spirit mocks man’s eyes;
And they who worship it are cold and wan,        40
Timid and proud, envying while they despise,
The wealth and wishes of their fellow-man.
 
 
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