Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
France: Vols. IX–X. 1876–79.



By Ausonius (c. 310–395)

Translated by Charles Abraham Elton

I BLAME my impious silence, that delays,

Midst chiefest cities, to record thy praise,

My birthplace! rivers, vineyards, men, thy fame;

Genius, and manners, and a senate’s name.

Was it, that, conscious of a slender town,

I feared to give thee undeserved renown?

Not so I blush; not Rhine’s barbaric shore,

Or Hæmus’ icy top Ausonius bore:

Burdigala the soil that gave me birth;

Where mild the sky, and rich the watered earth:

Long springs, brief winters, reign; hills wooded rise;

The foaming stream with tides of ocean vies.

Quadrangular the walls; the turrets bear

Their battlements amidst the clouds of air.

Within, the parted streets may wonder raise,

The range of dwellings, and the widening ways.

The gates that front where crossing spaces spread,

And river rushing from its fountain-head;

While, as old Ocean heaves his flowing tide,

The buoyant fleets upon its bosom ride.

Why name the fount, with Parian stone o’erlaid,

Like Euripus’ pent frith, with foaming motion swayed?

How dark the shade of depth! how swoln the surge!

With what a rush, within its margent verge,

Poured through twelve mouths the headlong waters burst,

And, unexhausted, quench a people’s thirst!

This, Median king! thy numerous camp had blest,

When the deep course of rivers sank deprest:

This wave thy train through cities might have borne,

And left Choaspes’ native stream in scorn.

Hail, secret fount! blest, bounteous, flowing still,

Dark, azure, glassy, deep, and clear, and shrill:

Hail, genius of the place! the patient sips

Thy panacean draughts with languid lips:

The name of Divona the Gauls assign,

O heavenly fountain, and indeed divine!

With less salubrious draught in tepid gush

From Aponus the bubbling waters rush;

Less pure with crystal light Nemausus gleams,

Less full Timavus rolls his sea-swoln streams.