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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882). Complete Poetical Works. 1893.

Birds of Passage

Flight the Fifth. Vittoria Colonna

  • Vittoria Colonna, on the death of her husband, the Marchese di Pescara, retired to her castle at Ischia (Inarimé), and there wrote the Ode upon his death which gained her the title of Divine.H. W. L.

  • ONCE more, once more, Inarimé,

    I see thy purple halls!—once more

    I hear the billows of the bay

    Wash the white pebbles on thy shore.

    High o’er the sea-surge and the sands,

    Like a great galleon wrecked and cast

    Ashore by storms, thy castle stands,

    A mouldering landmark of the Past.

    Upon its terrace-walk I see

    A phantom gliding to and fro;

    It is Colonna,—it is she

    Who lived and loved so long ago.

    Pescara’s beautiful young wife,

    The type of perfect womanhood,

    Whose life was love, the life of life,

    That time and change and death withstood.

    For death, that breaks the marriage band

    In others, only closer pressed

    The wedding-ring upon her hand

    And closer locked and barred her breast.

    She knew the life-long martyrdom,

    The weariness, the endless pain

    Of waiting for some one to come

    Who nevermore would come again.

    The shadows of the chestnut trees,

    The odor of the orange blooms,

    The song of birds, and, more than these,

    The silence of deserted rooms;

    The respiration of the sea,

    The soft caresses of the air,

    All things in nature seemed to be

    But ministers of her despair;

    Till the o’erburdened heart, so long

    Imprisoned in itself, found vent

    And voice in one impassioned song

    Of inconsolable lament.

    Then as the sun, though hidden from sight,

    Transmutes to gold the leaden mist,

    Her life was interfused with light,

    From realms that, though unseen, exist.

    Inarimé! Inarimé!

    Thy castle on the crags above

    In dust shall crumble and decay,

    But not the memory of her love.