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

Rome, the Campagna

Appian Way

By Bessie Rayner Parkes (1829–1925)

ACROSS the broad Campagna fell

The softly dropping rain,

Obscured the hills I love so well,

And blotted out the plain.

As those gray mists came sweeping by,

I seemed to see the ghosts

Of gallant Roman cavalry

Ride rallying to their posts.

The best of Rome was buried here,

Yet lonely is the way!

No living race esteems it dear,—

No pilgrim comes to pray.

The nameless tombs are overthrown

And open to the air,

And scarce the very race is known

Of nobles resting there.

A dreary double file of graves

That stretch across the land,—

The thick wild grass above them waves,

A fence on either hand;

And, quivering o’er the traveller’s head,

The long electric wires

Wail faint and sweet about the dead

A dirge which never tires.

Pale shades that walk the Elysian groves

Would chant with tones like these,

Whose minor music softly moves

Responsive to the breeze.

When homeward bent at twilight hours

A yearning thrills through me;—

That long dim line of distant towers,

Like mountains seen at sea!

How oft it rises in my heart,

A vision soft and gray,

But never rendered yet by art,—

Rome from the Appian Way!