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, the Campagna
Grotto of Egeria
Lord Byron (1788–1824)
(From Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage)

  EGERIA! sweet creation of some heart
  Which found no mortal resting-place so fair
  As thine ideal breast; whate’er thou art
  Or wert,—a young Aurora of the air,
  The nympholepsy of some fond despair;        5
  Or, it might be, a beauty of the earth,
  Who found a more than common votary there
  Too much adoring,—whatsoe’er thy birth,
Thou wert a beautiful thought, and softly bodied forth.
  The mosses of thy fountain still are sprinkled        10
  With thine Elysian water-drops: the face
  Of thy cave-guarded spring, with years unwrinkled,
  Reflects the meek-eyed genius of the place,
  Whose green, wild margin now no more erase
  Art’s works; nor must the delicate waters sleep,        15
  Prisoned in marble, bubbling from the base
  Of the cleft statue, with a gentle leap
The rill runs o’er, and round, fern, flowers, and ivy creep,
  Fantastically tangled; the green hills
  Are clothed with early blossoms, through the grass        20
  The quick-eyed lizard rustles, and the bills
  Of summer birds sing welcome as ye pass;
  Flowers fresh in hue, and many in their class,
  Implore the pausing step, and with their dyes
  Dance in the soft breeze in a fairy mass;        25
  The sweetness of the violet’s deep blue eyes,
Kissed by the breath of heaven, seems colored by its skies.
  Here didst thou dwell, in this enchanted cover,
  Egeria! thy all-heavenly bosom beating
  For the far footsteps of thy mortal lover;        30
  The purple midnight veiled that mystic meeting
  With her most starry canopy, and, seating
  Thyself by thine adorer, what befell?
  This cave was surely shaped out for the greeting
  Of an enamored goddess, and the cell        35
Haunted by holy love,—the earliest oracle!

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