Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > Switzerland
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Switzerland and Austria: Vol. XVI.  1876–79.
Austria: Trieste, Illyria
Robert Browning (1812–1889)
*        *        *        *        *
WE were sailing by Triest,
Where a day or two we harbored:
A sunset was in the west,
When, looking over the vessel’s side,
One of our company espied        5
A sudden speck to larboard.
And, as a sea-duck flies and swims
At once, so came the light craft up,
With its sole lateen sail that trims
And turns (the water round its rims        10
Dancing, as round a sinking cup),
And by us like a fish it curled,
And drew itself up close beside,
Its great sail on the instant furled,
And o’er its planks a shrill voice cried        15
(A neck as bronzed as a Lascar’s),
“Buy wine of us, you English brig?
Or fruit, tobacco, and cigars?
A pilot for you to Triest?
Without one, look you ne’er so big,        20
They ’ll never let you up the bay!
We natives should know best.”
I turned, and “Just those fellows’ way,”
Our captain said, “the ’long-shore thieves
Are laughing at us in their sleeves.”        25
In truth, the boy leaned laughing back;
And one, half hidden by his side
Under the furled sail, soon I spied,
With great grass hat, and kerchief black,
Who looked up, with his kingly throat,        30
Said somewhat, while the other shook
His hair back from his eyes to look
Their longest at us; then the boat,
I know not how, turned sharply round,
Laying her whole side on the sea        35
As a leaping fish does; from the lee
Into the weather, cut somehow
Her sparkling path beneath our bow;
And so went off, as with a bound,
Into the rose and golden half        40
Of the sky, to overtake the sun,
And reach the shore, like the sea-calf
Its singing cave; yet I caught one
Glance ere away the boat quite passed,
And neither time nor toil could mar        45
Those features: so I saw the last
Of Waring!”
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