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.
 
Sicily
Ode to Sicily
Walter Savage Landor (1775–1864)
 
NO mortal hand hath struck the heroic string
Since Milton’s lay in death across his breast,
            But shall the lyre then rest
Along tired Cupid’s wing
With vilest dust upon it? This of late        5
                Hath been its fate.
 
But thou, O Sicily, art born agen.
Far over chariot’s and Olympic steeds
I see the heads and the stout arms of men,
And will record (God give me power!) their deeds.        10
 
Hail to thee first, Palermo! hail to thee
Who callest with loud voice, “Arise! be free;
Weak is the hand and rusty is the chain.”
            Thou callest; nor in vain.
 
Not only from the mountain rushes forth        15
            The knighthood of the North,
            In whom my soul elate
Owns now a race cognate,
But even the couch of sloth mid painted walls
Swells up, and men start forth from it, where calls        20
The voice of Honor, long, too long, unheard.
 
            Not that the wretch was feared
Who feared the meanest as he feared the best
            (A reed could break his rest),
            But that around all kings        25
                Forever springs
A wasting vapor that absorbs the fire
            Of all that would rise higher.
 
Even free nations will not let there be
            More nations free.        30
Witness (O shame!) our own
Of eight years viler none,
The second Charles found many and made more
Base as himself: his reign is not yet o’er.
 
            To gratify a brood        35
Swamp-fed amid the Suabian wood,
The sons of Lusitania were cajoled,
            And bound, and sold,
And sent in chains where we unchain the slave
            We die with thirst to save.        40
 
Ye, too, Sicilians, ye too gave we up
            To drain the bitter cup
Ye now dash from ye in the despot’s face,
            O glorious race,
Which Hiero, Gelon, Pindar, sat among,        45
And praised for weaker deeds in deathless song;
One is yet left to laud ye. Years have marred
My voice, my prelude for some better bard,
When such shall rise, and such your deeds create.
 
            In the lone woods, and late,        50
Murmurs swell loud and louder, till at last
            So strong the blast
That the whole forest, earth, and sea, and sky,
            To the loud surge reply.
 
Show, in the circle of six hundred years,        55
Show me a Bourbon on whose brow appears
            No brand of traitor. Prune the tree,
From the same stock, forever will there be
The same foul canker, the same bitter fruit.
            Strike, Sicily, uproot        60
            The cursed upas. Never trust
That race agen; down with it, dust to dust.
 
 
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