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

Rome, Palaces and Villas of

A Day in the Pamfili Doria

By Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811–1896)

THOUGH the hills are cold and snowy,

And the wind drives chill to-day,

My heart goes back to a spring-time,

Far, far in the past away.

And I see a quaint old city,

Weary and worn and brown,

Where the spring and the birds are so early,

And the sun in such light goes down.

I remember that old-time villa,

Where our afternoons went by,

Where the suns of March flushed warmly,

And spring was in earth and sky.

Out of the mouldering city,

Mouldering, old, and gray,

We sped, with a lightsome heart-thrill,

For a sunny, gladsome day,—

For a revel of fresh spring verdure,

For a race mid springing flowers,

For a vision of plashing fountains,

Of birds and blossoming bowers.

There were violet banks in the shadows,

Violets white and blue;

And a world of bright anemones,

That over the terrace grew,—

Blue and orange and purple,

Rosy and yellow and white,

Rising in rainbow bubbles,

Streaking the lawns with light.

And down from the old stone pine-trees,

Those far-off islands of air,

The birds are flinging the tidings

Of a joyful revel up there.

And now for the grand old fountains,

Tossing their silvery spray,

Those fountains so quaint and so many,

That are leaping and singing all day.

Those fountains of strange weird sculpture,

With lichens and moss o’ergrown,

Are they marble greening in moss-wreaths?

Or moss-wreaths whitening to stone?

Down many a wild, dim pathway

We ramble from morning till noon;

We linger, unheeding the hours,

Till evening comes all too soon.

And from out the ilex alleys,

Where lengthening shadows play,

We look on the dreamy Campagna,

All glowing with setting day,—

All melting in bands of purple,

In swathings and foldings of gold,

In ribands of azure and lilac,

Like a princely banner unrolled.

And the smoke of each distant cottage,

And the flash of each villa white,

Shines out with an opal glimmer,

Like gems in a casket of light.

And the dome of old St. Peter’s

With a strange translucence glows,

Like a mighty bubble of amethyst

Floating in waves of rose.

In a trance of dreamy vagueness

We, gazing and yearning, behold

That city beheld by the prophet,

Whose walls were transparent gold.

And, dropping all solemn and slowly,

To hallow the softening spell,

There falls on the dying twilight

The Ave Maria bell.

With a mournful motherly softness,

With a weird and weary care,

That strange and ancient city

Seems calling the nations to prayer.

And the words that of old the angel

To the mother of Jesus brought,

Rise like a new evangel,

To hallow the trance of our thought.

With the smoke of the evening incense,

Our thoughts are ascending then

To Mary, the mother of Jesus,

To Jesus, the Master of men.

O city of prophets and martyrs,

O shrines of the sainted dead,

When, when shall the living day-spring

Once more on your towers be spread?

When He who is meek and lowly

Shall rule in those lordly halls,

And shall stand and feed as a shepherd

The flock which his mercy calls,—

O, then to those noble churches,

To picture and statue and gem,

To the pageant of solemn worship,

Shall the meaning come back again.

And this strange and ancient city,

In that reign of His truth and love,

Shall be what it seems in the twilight,

The type of that City above.