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.
Florence in the Olden Time
Dante Alighieri (c. 1265–1321)
(From Paradise, Canto XV)
Translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

FLORENCE, within the ancient boundary
    From which she taketh still her tierce and nones,
    Abode in quiet, temperate and chaste.
No golden chain she had, nor coronal,
    Nor ladies shod with sandal shoon, nor girdle        5
    That caught the eye more than the person did.
Not yet the daughter at her birth struck fear
    Into the father, for the time and dower
    Did not o’errun this side or that the measure.
No houses had she void of families,        10
    Not yet had thither come Sardanapalus
    To show what in a chamber can be done;
Not yet surpassed had Montemalo been
    By your Uccellatojo, which surpassed
    Shall in its downfall be as in its rise.        15
Bellincion Berti saw I go begirt
    With leather and with bone, and from the mirror
    His dame depart without a painted face;
And him of Nerli saw, and him of Vecchio,
    Contented with their simple suits of buff,        20
    And with the spindle and the flax their dames.
O fortunate women! and each one was certain
    Of her own burial-place, and none as yet
    For sake of France was in her bed deserted.
One o’er the cradle kept her studious watch,        25
    And in her lullaby the language used
    That first delights the fathers and the mothers;
Another, drawing tresses from her distaff,
    Told o’er among her family the tales
    Of Trojans and of Fesole and Rome.        30
As great a marvel then would have been held
    A Lapo Salterello, a Cianghella,
    As Cincinnatus or Cornelia now.

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