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


At Amalfi

By Richard Monckton Milnes, Lord Houghton (1809–1885)

IT is the mid-May sun that, rayless and peacefully gleaming,

Out of its night’s short prison this blessed of lands is redeeming;

It is the fire evoked from the hearts of the citron and orange,

So that they hang, like lamps of the day, translucently beaming;

It is the veinless water, and air unsoiled by a vapor,

Save what, out of the fulness of life, from the valley is steaming;

It is the olive that smiles, even he, the sad growth of the moonlight,

Over the flowers, whose breasts triple-folded with odors are teeming;—

Yes, it is these bright births that to me are a shame and an anguish;

They are alive and awake,—I dream, and know I am dreaming;

I cannot bathe my soul in this ocean of passion and beauty,—

Not one dewdrop is on me of all that about me is streaming;

O, I am thirsty for life,—I pant for the freshness of nature,

Bound in the world’s dead sleep, dried up by its treacherous seeming.