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.
Varese, the Lake
Lago Varese
Sir Henry Taylor (1800–1886)
    I STOOD beside Varese’s Lake,
      Mid that redundant growth
    Of vines and maize and bower and brake
      Which Nature, kind to sloth,
And scarce solicited by human toil,        5
Pours from the riches of the teeming soil.
    A mossy softness distance lent
      To each divergent hill,
    One crept away looking back as it went,
      The rest lay round and still;        10
The westering sun not dazzling now, though bright,
Shed o’er the mellow land a molten light.
    And, sauntering up a circling cove,
      I found upon the strand
    A shallop, and a girl who strove        15
      To drag it to dry land:
I stood to see the girl look round; her face
Had all her country’s clear and definite grace.
    She rested with the air of rest
      So seldom seen, of those        20
    Whose toil remitted gives a zest,
      Not languor, to repose.
Her form was poised yet buoyant, firm though free,
And liberal of her bright black eyes was she.
    Her hue reflected back the skies        25
      Which reddened in the west;
    And joy was laughing in her eyes
      And bounding in her breast,
Its rights and grants exulting to proclaim
Where pride had no inheritance, nor shame.
*        *        *        *        *
    Methought this scene before mine eyes,
      Still glowing with yon sun,
    Which seemed to melt the myriad dyes
      Of heaven and earth to one,
A divers unity,—methought this scene,        35
These undulant hills, the woods that intervene,
    The multiplicity of growth,
      The cornfield and the brake,
    The trellised vines that cover both,
      The purple-bosomed lake,        40
Some fifty summers hence may all be found
Rich in the charms wherewith they now abound.
    And should I take my staff again,
      And should I journey here,
    My steps may be less steady then,        45
      My eyesight not so clear,
And from the mind the sense of beauty may,
Even as these bodily gifts, have passed away;
    But grant my age but eyes to see,
      A still susceptive mind,        50
    All that leaves us, and all that we
      Leave wilfully behind,
And nothing here would want the charms it wore
Save only she who stands upon the shore.

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