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.
Capri, the Island
The Azure Grotto
Charles D. Bell (1818–1898)
BENEATH the vine-clad slopes of Capri’s Isle,
Which run down to the margin of that sea
Whose waters kiss the sweet Parthenope,
There is a grot whose rugged front the while
Frowns only dark where all is seen to smile.        5
But enter, and behold! surpassing fair
The magic sight that meets your vision there,—
Not heaven! with all its broad expanse of blue,
Gleams colored with a sheen so rich, so rare,
So changing in its clear, translucent hue;        10
Glassed in the lustrous wave, the walls and roof
Shine as does silver scattered o’er the woof
Of some rich robe, or bright as stars whose light
Inlays the azure concave of the night.
YOU cannot find throughout this world, I ween,
Waters so fair as those within this cave,
Color like that which flashes from the wave,
Or which is steeped in such cerulean sheen
As here gleams forth within this grotto’s screen.
And when the oar the boatman gently takes        20
And dips it in the flood, a fiery glow,
Ruddy as phosphor, stirs in depths below;
Each ripple into burning splendor breaks,
As though some hidden fires beneath did lie
Waiting a touch to kindle into flame,        25
And shine in radiance on the dazzled eye,
As sparkling up from wells of light they came,
To make this grot a glory far and nigh.

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