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.
Sicilian Arethusa
Horace Smith (1779–1849)
SICILIAN Arethusa! thou, whose arms
Of azure round the Thymbrian meadows wind,
Still are thy margins lined
With the same flowers Proserpina was weaving
In Enna’s field, beside Pergusa’s lake,        5
When swarthy Dis, upheaving,
Saw her, and, stung to madness by her charms,
Down snatched her, shrieking, to his Stygian couch.
Thy waves, Sicilian Arethusa, flow
In cadence to the shepherd’s flageolet        10
As tunefully as when they wont to crouch
Beneath the banks to catch the pipings low
Of old Theocritus, and hear him trill
Bucolic songs, and Amoebæan lays.
And still, Sicilian Arethusa, still,        15
Though Ætna dry thee up, or frosts enchain,
Thy music shall be heard, for poets high
Have dipped their wreaths in thee, and by their praise
Made thee immortal as themselves. Thy flowers,
Transplanted, an eternal bloom retain,        20
Rooted in words that cannot fade or die.
Thy liquid gush and guggling melody
Have left undoing echoes in the bowers
Of tuneful poesy. Thy very name,
Sicilian Arethusa, had been drowned        25
In deep oblivion, but that the buoyant breath
Of bards uplifted it, and bade it swim
Adown the eternal lapse, assured of fame,
Till all things shall be swallowed up in death.
Where, Immortality, where canst thou found        30
Thy throne unperishing, but in the hymn
Of the true bard, whose breath encrusts his theme
Like to a petrifaction, which the stream
Of time will only make more durable?

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