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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Italy: Vols. XI–XIII. 1876–79.


A Day at Tivoli

By John Kenyon (1784–1856)

THAT past is here; where old Tiburtus found

Mere mountain-brow, and fenced with walls around,

And for his wearied Argives reared a home,

Long ere yon seven proud hills had dreamed of Rome.

’T is here, amid these patriarch olive-trees,

Which Flaccus saw, or ancestry of these;

Oft musing, as he slowly strayed him past,

How here his quiet age should close at last.

And here behold them still! Like ancient seers

They stand; the dwellers of a thousand years,

Deep-furrowed, strangely crooked, and ashy-gray,

As ghost might gleam beneath the touch of day.

All strangely perforate, too; with rounded eyes,

That ever scan the traveller as he hies:

Fit guardians of the spot they seem to be,

With centuries seen, and centuries yet to see.

Who treads this pallid grove, by moonlight pale,

Might half believe the peasant’s spectre tale

Of Latian heroes old, that come to glide

Along these silent paths at even-tide;

Or Sibyl, wan with ghastly prophecy,

From her near fane, as whilom, wandering by.

But morning, now, and sunny vines are here,

From tree to tree gay-gadding without fear;

Or else in verdant rope their fibres string,

As if to tempt the little Loves to swing;

Or, tricking silvery head and wrinkled stem

With tendril-curl or leafy diadem;

A sportive war of graceful contrast wage,

The Grave and Gay, green Youth and hoary Age.

Hence we may feel resounding Anio’s shock,

As his full river thunders from his rock.

Yet mark! meanwhile adown its own small dell

How falls or winds each little cascatelle.

With no rude sound, with no impetuous rush,

But blandly, fondly, or by bank or bush,

Or floats in air, as when mild mermaid frees

(Or so they feign) her tresses to the breeze,

And, careless for a while of coral bower,

Basks on the sunny sands till noontide’s scorching hour.