Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > France
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
France: Vols. IX–X.  1876–79.
Durance, the River
The Durance
Letitia Elizabeth Landon (1802–1838)
(From The Troubadour)

CALL to mind your loveliest dream,
When your sleep is lulled by a mountain stream,
When your pillow is made of the violet,
And over your head are the branches met
Of a lime-tree covered with bloom and bees,        5
When the rose’s breath is on the breeze,
When odors and light on your eyelids press
With summer’s delicious idleness;
And upon you some shadowy likeness may glance
Of the faery banks of the bright Durance;        10
Just where at first its current flows
Mid willows and its own white rose,—
Its clear and early tide, or ere
A shade, save trees, its waters bear.
The sun, like an Indian king, has left        15
To that fair river a royal gift
Of gold and purple; no longer shines
His broad red disk o’er that forest of pines
Sweeping beneath the burning sky
Like a death-black ocean, whose billows lie        20
Dreaming dark dreams of storm in their sleep,
When the wings of the tempest shall over them sweep
And with its towers cleaving the red
Of the sunset clouds, and its shadow spread
Like a cloak before it, darkening the ranks        25
Of the light young trees on the river’s banks,
And ending there, as the waters shone
Too bright for shadows to rest upon,
A castle stands; whose windows gleam
Like the golden flash of a noon-lit stream        30
Seen through the lily and water-flag’s screen:
Just so shine those panes through the ivy green,
A curtain to shut out sun and air,
Which the work of years has woven there.
But not in the lighted pomp of the west        35
Looks the evening its loveliest:
Enter yon turret, and round you gaze
On what the twilight east displays:
One star, pure, clear, as if it shed
The dew on each young flower’s head;        40
And like a beauty of southern clime,
Her veil thrown back for the first time,
Pale, timid, as she feared to own
Her claim upon the midnight throne,
Shows the fair moon her crescent sign.        45
Beneath, in many a serpentine,
The river wanders; chestnut-trees
Spread their old boughs o’er cottages
Where the low roofs and porticos
Are covered with the Provence rose.        50
And there are vineyards; none might view
The fruit o’er which the foliage weaves;
And olive groves, pale, as the dew
Crusted its silver o’er the leaves.
And there the castle garden lay        55
With tints in beautiful array;
Its dark green walks, its fountains falling,
Its tame birds to each other calling;
The peacock with its orient rings,
The silver pheasant’s gleaming wings;        60
And on the breeze rich odors sent
Sweet messages, as if they meant
To rouse each sleeping sense to all
The loveliness of evening’s fall.

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