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.
Tiber, the River
To the Tiber
Alessandro Guidi (1650–1712)
Anonymous translation

      TIBER! my early dream,
  My boyhood’s vision of thy classic stream,
    Had taught my mind to think
        That over sands of gold
        Thy limpid waters rolled,        5
And ever-verdant laurels grew upon thy brink.
      But in far other guise
  The rude reality hath met mine eyes:
    Here, seated on thy bank,
        All desolate and drear        10
        Thy margin doth appear,
With creeping weeds, and shrubs, and vegetation rank.
      Fondly I fancied thine
  The wave pellucid, and the Naiad’s shrine,
    In crystal grot below;        15
        But thy tempestuous course
        Runs turbulent and hoarse,
And, swelling with wild wrath, thy wintry waters flow.
      Upon thy bosom dark,
  Peril awaits the light, confiding bark,        20
    In eddying vortex swamped;
        Foul, treacherous, and deep,
        Thy winding waters sweep,
Enveloping their prey in dismal ruin prompt.
      Fast in thy bed is sunk        25
  The mountain pine-tree’s broken trunk,
    Aimed at the galley’s keel;
        And well thy wave can waft
        Upon that broken shaft
The barge, whose shattered wreck thy bosom will conceal.        30
      The dog-star’s sultry power,
  The summer heat, the noontide’s fervid hour,
    That fires the mantling blood,
        Yon cautious swain can’t urge
        To tempt thy dangerous surge,        35
Or cool his limbs within thy dark, insidious flood.
      I ’ve marked thee in thy pride,
  When struggle fierce thy disemboguing tide
    With Ocean’s monarch held;
        But quickly overcome        40
        By Neptune’s masterdom,
Back thou hast fled as oft, ingloriously repelled.
      Often athwart the fields
  A giant’s strength thy flood redundant wields,
    Bursting above its brims,—        45
        Strength that no dike can check;
        Dire is the harvest-wreck!
Buoyant, with lofty horns, the affrighted bullock swims.
      But still thy proudest boast,
  Tiber, and what brings honor to thee most        50
    Is, that thy waters roll
        Fast by the eternal home
        Of Glory’s daughter, Rome;
And that thy billows bathe the sacred Capitol.
      Famed is thy stream for her,        55
  Clœlia, thy current’s virgin conqueror;
    And him who stemmed the march
        Of Tuscany’s proud host,
        When, firm at honor’s post,
He waved his blood-stained blade above the broken arch.        60
      Of Romulus the sons
  To torrid Africans, to frozen Huns,
    Have taught thy name, O flood!
        And to that utmost verge
        Where radiantly emerge        65
Apollo’s car of flame and golden-footed stud.
      For so much glory lent,
  Ever destructive of some monument,
    Thou makest foul return;
        Insulting with thy wave        70
        Each Roman hero’s grave,
And Scipio’s dust that fills yon consecrated urn!

Shakespeare · Bible · Strunk · Anatomy · Nonfiction · Quotations · Reference · Fiction · Poetry
© 1993–2015 · [Top 150] · Subjects · Titles · Authors · World Lit.