Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > Italy
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Italy: Vols. XI–XIII.  1876–79.
Rome, Palaces and Villas of
The Vatican
Lord Byron (1788–1824)
(From Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage)

  OR, turning to the Vatican, go see
  Laocoön’s torture dignifying pain,—
  A father’s love and mortal’s agony
  With an immortal’s patience blending: vain
  The struggle; vain, against the coiling strain        5
  And gripe, and deepening of the dragon’s grasp,
  The old man’s clench; the long envenomed chain
  Rivets the living links,—the enormous asp
Enforces pang on pang, and stifles gasp on gasp.
  Or view the lord of the unerring bow,        10
  The god of life and poesy and light,—
  The sun in human limbs arrayed, and brow
  All radiant from his triumph in the fight;
  The shaft hath just been shot,—the arrow bright
  With an immortal’s vengeance; in his eye        15
  And nostril beautiful disdain and might
  And majesty flash their full lightnings by,
Developing in that one glance the deity.
  But in his delicate form—a dream of love,
  Shaped by some solitary nymph, whose breast        20
  Longed for a deathless lover from above,
  And maddened in that vision—are exprest
  All that ideal beauty ever blessed
  The mind within its most unearthly mood,
  When each conception was a heavenly guest,—        25
  A ray of immortality,—and stood,
Starlike, around, until they gathered to a god!
  And if it be Prometheus stole from Heaven
  The fire which we endure, it was repaid
  By him to whom the energy was given        30
  Which this poetic marble hath arrayed
  With an eternal glory,—which, if made
  By human hands, is not of human thought;
  And Time himself hath hallowed it, nor laid
  One ringlet in the dust,—nor hath it caught        35
A tinge of years, but breathes the flame with which ’t was wrought.

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