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.
 
Rome
Rome
John Milton (1608–1674)
 

HE brought our Saviour to the western side
Of that high mountain, whence he might behold
Another plain, long, but in breadth not wide,
Washed by the southern sea; and, on the north,
To equal length backed with a ridge of hills,        5
That screened the fruits of the earth, and seats of men,
From cold Septentrion blasts; thence in the midst
Divided by a river, of whose banks
On each side an imperial city stood,
With towers and temples proudly elevate        10
On seven small hills, with palaces adorned,
Porches, and theatres, baths, aqueducts,
Statues, and trophies, and triumphal arcs,
Gardens, and groves, presented to his eyes,
Above the height of mountains interposed:        15
(By what strange parallax, or optic skill
Of vision, multiplied through air, or glass
Of telescope, were curious to inquire,)
And now the Tempter thus his silence broke:—
  “The city, which thou seest, no other deem        20
Than great and glorious Rome, queen of the earth,
So far renowned, and with the spoils enriched
Of nations: there the Capitol thou seest,
Above the rest lifting his stately head
On the Tarpeian rock, her citadel        25
Impregnable; and there Mount Palatine,
The imperial palace, compass huge, and high
The structure, skill of noblest architects,
With gilded battlements conspicuous far,
Turrets, and terraces, and glittering spires:        30
Many a fair edifice besides, more like
Houses of gods, (so well I have disposed
My aery microscope,) thou mayst behold,
Outside and inside both, pillars and roofs,
Carved work, the hand of famed artificers,        35
In cedar, marble, ivory, or gold.
Thence to the gates cast round thine eye, and see
What conflux issuing forth, or entering in;
Prætors, proconsuls to their provinces
Hasting, or on return, in robes of state,        40
Lictors and rods, the ensigns of their power,
Legions and cohorts, turms of horse and wings:
Or embassies from regions far remote,
In various habits, on the Appian road,
Or on the Emilian: some from farthest south,        45
Syene, and where the shadow both way falls,
Meroe, Nilotick isle; and, more to west,
The realm of Bocchus to the Black-moor sea;
From the Asian kings, and Parthian among these;
From India and the golden Chersonese,        50
And utmost Indian isle Taprobane,
Dusk faces with white silken turbans wreathed;
From Gallia, Gades, and the British west;
Germans, and Scythians, and Sarmatians, north
Beyond Danubius to the Taurick pool.        55
All nations now to Rome obedience pay;
To Rome’s great emperor, whose wide domain,
In ample territory, wealth, and power,
Civility of manners, arts, and arms,
And long renown, thou justly mayst prefer        60
Before the Parthian.”
 
 
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