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

Brindisi (Brundusium)


By Lucan (39–65 A.D.)

(From Pharsalia)
Translated by Nicholas Rowe

UNEQUAL thus to Cæsar, Pompey yields

The fair dominion of Hesperia’s fields:

Swift through Apulia march his flying powers,

And seek the safety of Brundusium’s towers.

This city a Dictæan people hold,

Here placed by tall Athenian barks of old;

When with false omens from the Cretan shore,

Their sable sails victorious Theseus bore.

Here Italy a narrow length extends,

And in a scanty slip projected ends.

A crooked mole around the waves she winds,

And in her folds the Adriatic binds.

Nor yet the bending shores could form a bay,

Did not a barrier isle the winds delay,

And break the seas tempestuous in their way.

Huge mounds of rocks are placed by nature’s hand,

To guard around the hospitable strand;

To turn the storm, repulse the rushing tide,

And bid the anchoring bark securely ride.

Hence Nereus wide the liquid main displays,

And spreads to various ports his watery ways;

Whether the pilot from Corcyra stand,

Or for Illyrian Epidamnus’ strand.

Hither when all the Adriatic roars,

And thundering billows vex the double shores;

When sable clouds around the welkin spread,

And frowning storms involve Ceraunia’s head;

When white with froth Calabrian Sason lies,

Hither the tempest-beaten vessel flies.