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.
 
Naples
Ode to Naples
Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792–1822)
 
I.
I STOOD within the city disinterred,
  And heard the autumnal leaves like light footfalls
Of spirits passing through the streets, and heard
  The Mountain’s slumberous voice at intervals
    Thrill through those roofless halls:        5
The oracular thunder penetrating shook
  The listening soul in my suspended blood;
I felt that Earth out of her deep heart spoke,—
  I felt, but heard not. Through white columns glowed
    The isle-sustaining Ocean flood,        10
A plane of light between two heavens of azure;
  Around me gleamed many a bright sepulchre
Of whose pure beauty, Time, as if his pleasure
  Were to spare Death, had never made erasure;
    But every living lineament was clear        15
    As in the sculptor’s thought; and there
The wreaths of stony myrtle, ivy and pine,
  Like winter leaves o’ergrown by moulded snow,
  Seemed only not to move and grow
    Because the crystal silence of the air        20
Weighed on their life; even as the power divine,
Which then lulled all things, brooded upon mine.
 
II.
        Then gentle winds arose,
        With many a mingled close
Of wild Æolian sound and mountain odor keen;        25
        And where the Baian ocean
        Welters with air-like motion,
Within, above, around its bowers of starry green,
  Moving the sea-flowers in those purple caves,
  Even as the ever-stormless atmosphere        30
    Floats o’er the Elysian realm,
It bore me; like an angel, o’er the waves
Of sunlight, whose swift pinnace of dewy air
        No storm can overwhelm.
        I sailed where ever flows        35
        Under the calm Serene
        A spirit of deep emotion,
        From the unknown graves
        Of the dead kings of melody.
Shadowy Aornus darkened o’er the helm        40
The horizontal ether; heaven stript bare
Its depths over Elysium, where the prow
Made the invisible water white as snow;
From that Typhæan mount, Inarimé,
There streamed a sunlit vapor, like the standard        45
        Of some ethereal host;
        Whilst from all the coast,
Louder and louder, gathering round, there wandered
Over the oracular woods and divine sea
Prophesyings which grew articulate.        50
They seize me,—I must speak them;—be they fate!
 
III.
Naples, thou Heart of men, which ever pantest
  Naked, beneath the lidless eye of heaven!
Elysian City, which to calm enchantest
  The mutinous air and sea! they round thee, even        55
  As sleep round Love, are driven,—
  Metropolis of a ruined Paradise
    Long lost, late won, and yet but half regained!
  Bright Altar of the bloodless sacrifice,
    Which arméd Victory offers up unstained        60
    To Love, the flower-enchained!
Thou which wert once, and then didst cease to be,
Now art, and henceforth ever shalt be, free,
  If hope, and truth, and justice can avail.
        Hail, hail, all hail!
*        *        *        *        *
        65
IV.
        Great Spirit, deepest Love!
        Which rulest and dost move
All things which live and are, within the Italian shore;
        Who spreadest heaven around it,
        Whose woods, rocks, waves, surround it;        70
Who sittest in thy star, o’er Ocean’s western floor;
  Spirit of beauty! at whose soft command
The sunbeams and the showers distil its foison
        From the Earth’s bosom chill;
  O, bid those beams be each a blinding brand        75
Of lightning! bid those showers be dews of poison!
        Bid the Earth’s plenty kill!
        Bid thy bright Heaven above,
        Whilst light and darkness bound it,
        Be their tomb who planned        80
        To make it ours and thine!
Or, with thine harmonizing ardors fill
And raise thy sons, as o’er the prone horizon
Thy lamp feeds every twilight wave with fire!
Be man’s high hope and unextinct desire        85
The instrument to work thy will divine!
Then clouds from sunbeams, antelopes from leopards,
        And frowns and fears from thee,
        Would not more swiftly flee,
Than Celtic wolves from the Ausonian shepherds.        90
        Whatever, Spirit, from thy starry shrine
        Thou yieldest or withholdest, O, let be
        This city of thy worship, ever free!
 
 
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