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

Rome, the Campagna

A Roman Aqueduct

By Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809–1894)

THE SUN-BROWNED girl, whose limbs recline

When noon her languid hand has laid

Hot on the green flakes of the pine,

Beneath its narrow disk of shade;

As, through the flickering noontide glare,

She gazes on the rainbow chain

Of arches, lifting once in air

The rivers of the Roman’s plain;—

Say, does her wandering eye recall

The mountain-current’s icy wave,

Or for the dead one tear let fall,

Whose founts are broken by their grave?

From stone to stone the ivy weaves

Her braided tracery’s winding veil,

And lacing stalks and tangled leaves

Nod heavy in the drowsy gale.

And lightly floats the pendent vine,

That swings beneath her slender bow,

Arch answering arch,—whose rounded line

Seems mirrored in the wreath below.

How patient Nature smiles at Fame!

The weeds, that strewed the victor’s way,

Feed on his dust to shroud his name,

Green where his proudest towers decay.

See, through that channel, empty now,

The scanty rain its tribute pours,—

Which cooled the lip and laved the brow

Of conquerors from a hundred shores.

Thus bending o’er the nation’s bier,

Whose wants the captive earth supplied,

The dew of Memory’s passing tear

Falls on the arches of her pride!