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


At Venice

By Arthur Hugh Clough (1819–1861)


ON her still lake the city sits

While bark and boat beside her flits,

Nor hears, her soft siesta taking,

The Adriatic billows breaking.


O beautiful beneath the magic moon

To walk the watery way of palaces!

O beautiful, o’er-vaulted with gemmed blue,

This spacious court! with color and with gold,

With cupolas and pinnacles and points

And crosses multiplex and tips and balls

(Wherewith the bright stars unreproving mix,

Nor scorn by hasty eyes to be confused);

Fantastically perfect this lone pile

Of Oriental glory; these long ranges

Of classic chiselling; this gay flickering crowd,

And the calm Campanile,—beautiful!

O, beautiful!

My mind is in her rest; my heart at home

In all around; my soul secure in place,

And the vext needle perfect to her poles.

Aimless and hopeless in my life, I seemed

To thread the winding by-ways of the town

Bewildered, baffled, hurried hence and thence,

All at cross purpose ever with myself,

Unknowing whence or whither. Then, at once,

At a step, I crown the Campanile’s top,

And view all mapped below; islands, lagoon,

An hundred steeples, and a myriad roofs,

The fruitful champaign, and the cloud-capt Alps,

And the broad Adriatic.