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

Rocca Priori

A Summons

By Frances Anne Kemble (1809–1893)

The First Snow Mountain Seen from a Sunny Hillside near Rocca Priori, in the Autumn of 1846

LOOK, love, to yonder mountain’s brow;

Seest thou that beckoning hand of snow?

Stern Winter dares no further come,

But waves me towards his northern home.

The sun upon this glad earth pours

His blessing, in warm golden showers;

Down the steep path, with busy hum,

The black-eyed sturdy peasants come;

Patches of colors bright and gay

Hang o’er their cheeks of ruddy brown,

Loud laugh and jest make light their way,

From rock-perched hamlets winding down.

The jogging mule goes clattering light,

His wooden tubs to seek their freight;

While others, with their vintage load,

Strain up the steep and stony road,

And, all the sunny paths along,

Snatches of loud monotonous song

Come down from hill and up from glade,

And through the broad-leaved chestnut shade;

From vineyards where a merry band

Pile the ripe treasure of the land,

Amber and amethyst shining through

Soft purple bloom and sparkling dew.

Dark white-veined glittering ivy, wed

To wreaths of vine-leaves touched with red,

Hang from the brown brows of the rocks,—

A garland meet for Bacchus’ locks.

The fields, the woods, the air, the ground,

Smell of the vintage all around,

And from the sunny earth and sea

Rises a shout of jubilee.

From this steep road look down, where grow

The chestnut forests deep below;

Behold how far beneath our feet

The huge wood billows spread and meet,—

A waving sea of noble trees,

Rolling their green crests in the breeze;

Mark the bright vale, the mountain chain,

The distant lines of that great plain,

Where Rome, eternal Empress, sits

Beneath the cloudless light, that fits

The lordliest and the loveliest scene

Time e’er shall see, Time yet hath seen!

O land of glorious memories,

O land as fair as Paradise,

O thou beloved, by whom I stand,

Straining in mine thy kindred hand,

Farewell!—on yonder mountain’s brow

I see a beckoning hand of snow;

Stern Winter dares no nearer come,

But waves me towards his northern home.