Home  »  Complete Poetical Works by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow  »  Part Second. II. Viterbo

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

Michael Angelo: A Fragment

Part Second. II. Viterbo

VITTORIA COLONNA at the convent window.

PARTING with friends is temporary death,

As all death is. We see no more their faces,

Nor hear their voices, save in memory.

But messages of love give us assurance

That we are not forgotten. Who shall say

That from the world of spirits comes no greeting,

No message of remembrance? It may be

The thoughts that visit us, we know not whence,

Sudden as inspiration, are the whispers

Of disembodied spirits, speaking to us

As friends, who wait outside a prison wall,

Through the barred windows speak to those within.[A pause.

As quiet as the lake that lies beneath me,

As quiet as the tranquil sky above me,

As quiet as a heart that beats no more,

This convent seems. Above, below, all peace!

Silence and solitude, the soul’s best friends,

Are with me here, and the tumultuous world

Makes no more noise than the remotest planet.[A pause.

O gentle spirit, unto the third circle

Of heaven among the blessed souls ascended,

Who, living in the faith and dying for it,

Have gone to their reward, I do not sigh

For thee as being dead, but for myself

That I am still alive. Turn those dear eyes,

Once so benignant to me, upon mine,

That open to their tears such uncontrolled

And such continual issue. Still awhile

Have patience; I will come to thee at last.

A few more goings in and out these doors,

A few more chimings of these convent bells,

A few more prayers, a few more sighs and tears,

And the long agony of this life will end,

And I shall be with thee. If I am wanting

To thy well-being, as thou art to mine,

Have patience; I will come to thee at last.

Ye winds that loiter in these cloister gardens,

Or wander far above the city walls,

Bear unto him this message, that I ever

Or speak or think of him, or weep for him.

By unseen hands uplifted in the light

Of sunset, yonder solitary cloud

Floats, with its white apparel blown abroad,

And wafted up to heaven. It fades away,

And melts into the air. Ah, would that I

Could thus be wafted unto thee, Francesco,

A cloud of white, an incorporeal spirit!