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.
Rome, Hills of
Mount Aventine
Virgil (70–19 B.C.)
(From Æneid, Book VIII)
Translated by C. P. Cranch

FIRST look upon yon craggy pile, on stones
Suspended; scattered far and wide, the rocks
Are strewn; how lonely and deserted stands
That mountain-fortress; with what ruin wild
The cliffs are dragged and toppled from above!        5
That was the cave hewn in a vast recess
Where dwelt the terrible half-human form
Of Cacus; where no sunbeams found their way;
And ever with fresh slaughter smoked the ground.
On the proud portals fixed hung heads of men,        10
Pallid and ghastly in their clotted gore.
This monster’s sire was Vulcan; his the flames
And smoke that issued from his mouth. His boast
Was in his mighty bulk. But time at length
Brought aid long wished, and the advent of a god.        15
Alcides came, the great avenger, proud
From triple Geryon’s slaughter and his spoils,
And hither drove his captured bulls, which filled
The river and the vale. But Cacus, fired
With fury, left untried no stratagem        20
Or crime; took from their stalls four comely bulls,
And heifers four, of beauty unsurpassed;
And, lest their hoof-prints should betray the theft,
He dragged them backwards, with the tracks reversed,
And hid them in his gloomy cave. No signs        25
The seeker found to lead him to the place.
Meanwhile, when now Amphitryon’s son prepared
To move his full-fed herd, and to depart,
The cattle, as they left, began to low,
And filled the woods and hills with their complaints.        30
When, from the cave, one of the cows returned
The sound; and thus, though guarded close, betrayed
The hope of Cacus.

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