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

Birds of Passage

Flight the Second. Enceladus

  • Written February 3, 1859. “I have written,” says Mr. Longfellow in a letter to Mr. Sumner, “a lyric on Italy, entitled Enceladus, from which title your imagination can construct the poem. It is not a war-song, but a kind of lament for the woes of the country.” Mr. Longfellow used the money paid him for the poem, which appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, August, 1859, in aid of the Italian widows and the soldiers wounded in the war then going on for the deliverance of Italy from Austrian rule.

  • UNDER Mount Etna he lies,

    It is slumber, it is not death;

    For he struggles at times to arise,

    And above him the lurid skies

    Are hot with his fiery breath.

    The crags are piled on his breast,

    The earth is heaped on his head;

    But the groans of his wild unrest,

    Though smothered and half suppressed,

    Are heard, and he is not dead.

    And the nations far away

    Are watching with eager eyes;

    They talk together and say,

    “To-morrow, perhaps to-day,

    Enceladus will arise!”

    And the old gods, the austere

    Oppressors in their strength,

    Stand aghast and white with fear

    At the ominous sounds they hear,

    And tremble, and mutter, “At length!”

    Ah me! for the land that is sown

    With the harvest of despair!

    Where the burning cinders, blown

    From the lips of the overthrown

    Enceladus, fill the air;

    Where ashes are heaped in drifts

    Over vineyard and field and town,

    Whenever he starts and lifts

    His head through the blackened rifts

    Of the crags that keep him down.

    See, see! the red light shines!

    ’T is the glare of his awful eyes!

    And the storm-wind shouts through the pines

    Of Alps and of Apennines,

    “Enceladus, arise!”