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.
 
Introductory
Italy
Samuel Rogers (1763–1855)
 
O ITALY, how beautiful thou art!
Yet I could weep,—for thou art lying, alas,
Low in the dust; and we admire thee now
As we admire the beautiful in death.
Thine was a dangerous gift, when thou wert born,        5
The gift of Beauty. Would thou hadst it not;
Or wert as once, awing the caitiffs vile
That now beset thee, making thee their slave!
Would they had loved thee less, or feared thee more!
—But why despair? Twice hast thou lived already;        10
Twice shone among the nations of the world,
As the sun shines among the lesser lights
Of heaven; and shalt again. The hour shall come
When they who think to bind the ethereal spirit,
Who, like the eagle cowering o’er his prey,        15
Watch with quick eye, and strike and strike again
If but a sinew vibrate, shall confess
Their wisdom folly. Even now the flame
Bursts forth where once it burnt so gloriously,
And, dying, left a splendor like the day,        20
That like the day diffused itself, and still
Blesses the earth,—the light of genius, virtue,
Greatness in thought and act, contempt of death,
Godlike example.
 
 
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