Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > Switzerland
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Switzerland and Austria: Vol. XVI.  1876–79.
Austria: Spielberg, the Castle
Canzone, Written in Prison
Silvio Pellico (1789–1854)
Anonymous translation

THE LOVE of song what can impart
To the lone captive’s sinking heart?
Thou sun! thou fount divine
Of light! the gift is thine!
O, how, beyond the gloom        5
That wraps my living tomb,
Through forest, garden, mead, and grove,
All nature drinks the ray
Of glorious day,—
Inebriate with love!        10
The jocund torrents flow
To distant worlds that owe
Their life to thee!
And if a slender ray
Chance through my bars to stray,        15
And pierce to me,
My cell, no more a tomb,
Smiles in its caverned gloom,—
As nature to the free!
If scarce thy bounty yields        20
To these ungenial fields
The gift divine,
O, shed thy blessings here,
Now while in dungeon drear
Italians pine!        25
Thy splendors faintly known,
Sclavonia may not own
For thee the love
Our hearts must move,
Who from our cradle learn        30
To adore thee, and to yearn
With passionate desire
(Our nature’s fondest prayer,
Needful as vital air)
To see thee, or expire.        35
Beneath my native, distant sky,
The captive’s sire and mother sigh;
O, never there may darkling cloud
With veil of circling horror shroud
The rising day;        40
But thy warm beams, still glowing bright,
Enchant their hearts with joyous light,
And charm their grief away!

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