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


Giotto’s Tower

HOW many lives, made beautiful and sweet

By self-devotion and by self-restraint,

Whose pleasure is to run without complaint

On unknown errands of the Paraclete,

Wanting the reverence of unshodden feet,

Fail of the nimbus which the artists paint

Around the shining forehead of the saint,

And are in their completeness incomplete!

In the old Tuscan town stands Giotto’s tower,

The lily of Florence blossoming in stone,—

A vision, a delight, and a desire,—

The builder’s perfect and centennial flower,

That in the night of ages bloomed alone,

But wanting still the glory of the spire.