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.
The White Flag on the Lagoon Bridge at Venice
Arnoldo Fusinato (1817–1888)
Translated by W. D. Howells

THE TWILIGHT is deepening, still is the wave;
I sit by the window mute as by a grave;
Silent, companionless, secret I pine;
Through my tears where thou liest, I look, Venice mine!
On the clouds, brokenly strewn through the west,        5
Dies the last ray of the sun sunk to rest,
And a sad sibillance under the moon
Sighs from the broken heart of the Lagoon.
Out of the city a boat draweth near:
“You of the gondola, tell us, what cheer?”        10
“Bread lacks, the cholera deadlier grows;
From the Lagoon Bridge the white banner blows.”
No, no, nevermore, on so great woe,
Bright sun of Italy, nevermore glow!
Over Venetian hopes shattered so soon        15
Mourn in thy sorrow forever, Lagoon!
Venice, to thee comes at last the last hour,
Martyr illustrious, in thy foe’s power;
Bread lacks, the cholera deadlier grows,
From the Lagoon Bridge the white banner blows.        20
Not all the battle-flames over thee streaming,
Not all the numberless bolts o’er thee screaming,
Not for war’s terrors thy free days are dead:
Long live Venice that perished for bread!
On thine immortal page, sculpture, O story,        25
Others’ iniquity, Venice’s glory:
Forever thrice infamous let his name be
Who triumphed by famine, my Venice, o’er thee!
Long live Venice; undaunted she fell,
Bravely she fought for her freedom and well;        30
But bread lacks, the cholera deadlier grows,
From the Lagoon Bridge the white banner blows.
And now be shivered upon the stone here
Till thou be free the mute lyre that I bear.
Unto thee, Venice, shall be my last song,        35
To thee the last kiss and the last tear belong.
In exile and lonely from home I depart,
But Venice forever shall live in my heart;
In its most sacred place Venice shall be
As was the vision of first love to me.        40
Lo, the wind rises, and over the pale
Face of its waters the deep sends a wail;
Breaking, the chords shriek, and the voice dies,—
On the Lagoon Bridge the white banner flies!

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