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.
Appendix: Pæstum
John Edmund Reade (1800–1870)
(From Italy)

  LO, far on the horizon’s verge reclined
  A temple, reared as on a broken throne:
  The sun’s red rays in lurid light declined
  O’er clouds that mutter forth a thunder-tone,
  Gleam athwart each aerial column shown        5
  Like giants standing on a sable sky;
  What record tells it in that desert lone?
  Resting in solitary majesty
Eternal Pæstum there absorbs the heart and eye.
  Pause here, the desolate waste, the lowering heaven,        10
  The sea-fowl’s clang, the gray mist hurrying by,
  The altar fronting ye with brow unriven,
  In isolation of sublimity,
  Mates with the clouds, the mountains, and the sky:
  But the sea breaks no more against his shrine,        15
  Hurled from his base the ocean-deity;
  His worshippers have passed and left no sign,
The Shaker of the Earth no more is held divine!
  There like some Titan throned in his retreat
  Of deserts, the declining sun’s last rays        20
  Falling round him on his majestic seat,
  Each limb dilated in the twilight haze
  Of the red distance darkening on the gaze:
  An image whose august tranquillity
  The presence of unconscious power betrays,        25
  Whose co-mates are the hills, the rocks, the sea,
Even so the awestruck soul reposing dwells on thee!
  And there thou standest stern, austere, sublime,
  Strength nakedly resposing at thy base,
  Making a mockery of the assaults of time;        30
  Earthquakes have heaved, storms shook, the lightning’s trace
  Left the black shadows time shall not efface,
  And the hot levin dinted where it fell!
  But on thy unperturbed and steadfast face
  Is stamped the impress of the unchangeable,        35
  That fixed forever there thy massive form shall dwell.
  Spirit of gray Antiquity! enthroned
  With solitude and silence here, proclaim
  Thou, brooding o’er thy altar-place, who owned,
  Who reared, that mightiest temple? from whence came        40
  The children of the sea? what age, what name,
  Bore they who chose this plain their home to be?
  Arena meted for the race of fame:
  For gods to applaud the deeds of liberty,
Knowledge, and glorious art, that flows but from the free.        45

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