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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Spring in Rome
By William Wetmore Story (1819–1895)
 
From ‘Roba di Roma’

SPRING has come. The nightingales already begin to bubble into song under the Ludovisi ilexes and in the Barberini Gardens. Daisies have snowed all over the Campagna, periwinkles star the grass, crocuses and anemones impurple the spaces between the rows of springing grain along the still brown slopes. At every turn in the streets basketfuls of sweet-scented Parma violets are offered you by little girls and boys; and at the corner of the Condotti and Corso is a splendid show of camellias, set into beds of double violets, and sold for a song. Now and then one meets huge baskets filled with these delicious violets on their way to the confectioners and caffès, where they will be made into sirup; for the Italians are very fond of this bibita, and prize it not only for its flavor, but for its medicinal qualities. Violets seem to rain over the villas in spring; acres are purple with them, and the air all around is sweet with their fragrance. Every day scores of carriages are driving about the Borghese grounds, which are open to the public: and hundreds of children are running about, plucking flowers and playing on the lovely slopes and in the shadows of the noble trees; while their parents stroll at a distance and wait for them in the shady avenues. There too you will see the young priests of the various seminaries, with their robes tucked up, playing at ball, and amusing themselves at various sports…. If one drives out at any of the gates he will see that spring is come. The hedges are putting forth their leaves, the almond-trees are in full blossom, and in the vineyards the contadini are setting cane-poles, and trimming the vines to run upon them. Here and there along the slopes the rude antique plow, dragged heavily along by great gray oxen, turns up the rich loam, that needs only to be tickled to laugh out in flowers and grain. Here and there, the smoke of distant bonfires, burning heaps of useless stubble, shows against the dreamy purple hills like the pillar of cloud that led the Israelites. One smells the sharp odor of these fires everywhere, and hears them crackle in the fields:—
  “Atque levem stipulam crepitantibus urere flammis.”
(And stubble easily burned with crackling flames.)
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