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.
 
Vallombrosa
Vallombrosa
Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806–1861)
 
(From Casa Guidi Windows)

AND Vallombrosa, we two went to see
  Last June, beloved companion,—where sublime
The mountains live in holy families,
  And the slow pine-woods ever climb and climb
Half up their breasts; just stagger as they seize        5
  Some gray crag,—drop back with it many a time,
And straggle blindly down the precipice!
  The Vallombrosan brooks were strewn as thick
That June-day, knee-deep, with dead beechen leaves,
  As Milton saw them ere his heart grew sick,        10
And his eyes blind. I think the monks and beeves
  Are all the same too: scarce they have changed the wick
On good St. Gualbert’s altar, which receives
  The convent’s pilgrims; and the pool in front
Wherein the hill-stream trout are cast, to wait        15
  The beatific vision, and the grunt
Used at refectory, keeps its weedy state,
  To baffle saintly abbots, who would count
The fish across their breviary, nor ’bate
  The measure of their steps. O waterfalls        20
And forests! sound and silence! mountains bare,
  That leap up, peak by peak, and catch the palls
Of purple and silver mist, to rend and share
  With one another, at electric calls
Of life in the sunbeams,—till we cannot dare        25
  Fix your shapes, learn your number! we must think
Your beauty and your glory helped to fill
  The cup of Milton’s soul so to the brink,
That he no more was thirsty when God’s will
  Had shattered to his sense the last chain-link        30
By which he drew from Nature’s visible
  The fresh well-water. Satisfied by this,
He sang of Adam’s Paradise and smiled,
  Remembering Vallombrosa. Therefore is
The place divine to English man and child;—        35
  We all love Italy.
 
 
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