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.
 
Siena
Siena
Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837–1909)
 
INSIDE this northern summer’s fold
The fields are full of naked gold,
Broadcast from heaven on lands it loves;
The green veiled air is full of doves;
Soft leaves that sift the sunbeams let        5
Light on the small warm grasses wet,
Fall in short broken kisses sweet,
And break again like waves that beat
Round the sun’s feet.
 
But I, for all this English mirth        10
  Of golden-shod and dancing days,
And the old green-girt, sweet-hearted earth,
  Desire what here no spell can raise.
Far hence, with holier heavens above,
The lovely city of my love        15
Bathes deep in the sun-satiate air
That flows round no fair thing more fair
Her beauty bare.
 
There the utter sky is holier, there
More pure the intense white height of air,        20
More clear men’s eyes that mine would meet,
And the sweet springs of things more sweet.
There for this one warm note of doves
A clamor of a thousand loves
Storms the night’s ear, the day’s assails,        25
From the tempestuous nightingales,
And fills, and fails.
 
O gracious city well-beloved,
Italian, and a maiden crowned,
Siena, my feet are no more moved        30
Toward thy strange-shapen mountain-bound:
But my heart in me turns and moves,
O lady loveliest of my loves,
Toward thee, to lie before thy feet
And gaze from thy fair fountain-seat        35
Up the sheer street;
 
And the house midway hanging see
That saw Saint Catherine bodily,
Felt on its floors her sweet feet move,
And the live light of fiery love        40
Burn from her beautiful, strange face,
As in the sanguine sacred place
Where in pure hands she took the head
Severed, and with pure lips still red
Kissed the lips dead.
*        *        *        *        *
        45
For the outer land is sad, and wears
  A raiment of a flaming fire;
And the fierce, fruitless mountain stairs
  Climb, yet seem wroth and loth to aspire,
Climb, and break, and are broken down,        50
And through their clefts and crests the town
Looks west and sees the dead sun lie
In sanguine death that stains the sky
With angry dye.
 
And from the war-worn wastes without        55
In twilight, in the time of doubt,
One sound comes of one whisper, where,
Moved with low motions of slow air,
The great trees nigh the castle swing
In the sad colored evening;        60
“Ricorditi di me, che son
La Pia,”—that small sweet word alone
Is not yet gone.
 
“Ricorditi di me,”—the sound
  Sole out of deep dumb days remote        65
Across the fiery and fatal ground
  Comes tender as a hurt bird’s note
To where, a ghost with empty hands,
A woe-worn ghost, her palace stands
In the mid city, where the strong        70
Bells turn the sunset air to song,
And the towers throng.
 
With other face, with speech the same,
A mightier maiden’s likeness came
Late among mourning men that slept,        75
A sacred ghost that went and wept,
White as the passion-wounded Lamb,
Saying, “Ah, remember me, that am
Italia.” (From deep sea to sea
Earth heard, earth knew her, that this was she.)        80
    “Ricorditi.”
*        *        *        *        *
 
 
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