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.
Felicia Hemans (1793–1835)
(From The Widow of Crescentius)

MIDST Tivoli’s luxuriant glades,
Bright-foaming falls, and olive shades,
Where dwelt, in days departed long,
The sons of battle and of song,
No tree, no shrub, its foliage rears;        5
But o’er the wrecks of other years,
Temples and domes, which long have been
The soil of that enchanted scene.
  There the wild fig-tree and the vine
O’er Hadrian’s mouldering villa twine;        10
The cypress, in funereal grace,
Usurps the vanished column’s place;
O’er fallen shrine and ruined frieze
The wall-flower rustles in the breeze;
Acanthus leaves the marble hide        15
They once adorned in sculptured pride,
And Nature hath resumed her throne
O’er the vast works of ages flown.
  Was it for this that many a pile,
Pride of Ilissus and of Nile,        20
To Anio’s banks the image lent
Of each imperial monument?
Now Athens weeps her shattered fanes,
Thy temples, Egypt, strew thy plains;
And the proud fabrics Hadrian reared        25
From Tiber’s vale have disappeared.
We need no prescient sibyl there
The doom of grandeur to declare;
Each stone, where weeds and ivy climb,
Reveals some oracle of time;        30
Each relic utters Fate’s decree,—
The future as the past shall be.
  Halls of the dead! in Tiber’s vale
Who now shall tell your lofty tale?
Who trace the high patrician’s dome,        35
The bard’s retreat, the hero’s home?
When moss-clad wrecks alone record
There dwelt the world’s departed lord,
In scenes where verdure’s rich array
Still sheds young beauty or decay,        40
And sunshine on each glowing hill
Midst ruins finds a dwelling still.
  Sunk is thy palace, but thy tomb,
Hadrian! hath shared a prouder doom.
Though vanished with the days of old        45
Its pillars of Corinthian mould;
Though the fair forms by sculpture wrought,
Each bodying some immortal thought,
Which o’er that temple of the dead
Serene but solemn beauty shed,        50
Have found, like glory’s self, a grave
In time’s abyss or Tiber’s wave;
Yet dreams more lofty and more fair
Than Art’s bold hand hath imaged e’er,
High thoughts of many a mighty mind        55
Expanding when all else declined,
In twilight years, when only they
Recalled the radiance passed away,
Have made that ancient pile their home,
Fortress of freedom and of Rome.
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