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



By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882)

Lake of Como

NO sound of wheels or hoof-beat breaks

The silence of the summer day,

As by the loveliest of all lakes

I while the idle hours away.

I pace the leafy colonnade

Where level branches of the plane

Above me weave a roof of shade

Impervious to the sun and rain.

At times a sudden rush of air

Flutters the lazy leaves o’erhead,

And gleams of sunshine toss and flare

Like torches down the path I tread.

By Somariva’s garden gate

I make the marble stairs my seat,

And hear the water, as I wait,

Lapping the steps beneath my feet.

The undulation sinks and swells

Along the stony parapets,

And far away the floating bells

Tinkle upon the fisher’s nets.

Silent and slow, by tower and town

The freighted barges come and go,

Their pendent shadows gliding down

By town and tower submerged below.

The hills sweep upward from the shore

With villas scattered one by one

Upon their wooded spurs, and lower

Bellaggio blazing in the sun.

And dimly seen, a tangled mass

Of walls and woods, of light and shade,

Stands beckoning up the Stelvio Pass

Varenna with its white cascade.

I ask myself, Is this a dream?

Will it all vanish into air?

Is there a land of such supreme

And perfect beauty anywhere?

Sweet vision! Do not fade away;

Linger until my heart shall take

Into itself the summer day,

And all the beauty of the lake.

Linger until upon my brain

Is stamped an image of the scene,

Then fade into the air again,

And be as if thou hadst not been.