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.
 
Vesuvius, the Mountain
Vesuvius
Richard Chenevix Trench (1807–1886)
 
I.
A WREATH of light-blue vapor, pure and rare,
Mounts, scarcely seen against the bluer sky,
In quiet adoration, silently,
Till the faint currents of the upper air
Dislimn it, and it forms, dissolving there,        5
The dome, as of a palace, hung on high
Over the mountain; underneath it lie
Vineyards and bays and cities, white and fair.
Might we not think this beauty would engage
All living things unto one pure delight?        10
O, vain belief! for here, our records tell,
Rome’s understanding tyrant from men’s sight
Hid, as within a guilty citadel,
The shame of his dishonorable age.
 
II.
AS when unto a mother, having chid
        15
Her child in anger, there have straight ensued
Repentings for her quick and angry mood,
Till she would fain see all its traces hid
Quite out of sight,—even so has Nature bid
Fair flowers, that on the scarred earth she has strewed,        20
To blossom, and called up the taller wood
To cover what she ruined and undid.
O, and her mood of anger did not last
More than an instant, but her work of peace,
Restoring and repairing, comforting        25
The Earth, her stricken child, will never cease:
For that was her strange work, and quickly past;
To this her genial toil no end the years shall bring.
 
III.
THAT her destroying fury was with noise
And sudden uproar; but far otherwise,        30
With silent and with secret ministries,
Her skill of renovation she employs:
For Nature, only loud when she destroys,
Is silent when she fashions; she will crowd
The work of her destruction, transient, loud,        35
Into an hour, and then long peace enjoys.
Yea, every power that fashions and upholds
Works silently,—all things, whose life is sure,
Their life is calm; silent the light that moulds
And colors all things; and without debate        40
The stars, which are forever to endure,
Assume their thrones and their unquestioned state.
 
 
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