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


Casa Guidi Windows

By Bayard Taylor (1825–1878)

SHE came, whom Casa Guidi’s chambers knew,

And know more proudly, an immortal, now;

The air without a star was shivered through

With the resistless radiance of her brow,

And glimmering landscapes from the darkness grew.

Thin, phantom-like; and yet she brought me rest,

Unspoken words, an understood command

Sealed weary lids with sleep, together pressed

In clasping quiet wandering hand to hand,

And smoothed the folded cloth above the breast.

Now, looking through these windows, where the day

Shines on a terrace splendid with the gold

Of autumn shrubs, and green with glossy bay,

Once more her face, re-made from dust, I hold

In light so clear it cannot pass away:—

The quiet brow; the face so frail and fair

For such a voice of song; the steady eye,

Where shone the spirit fated to outwear

Its fragile house;—and on her features lie

The soft half-shadows of her drooping hair.

Who could forget those features, having known?

Whose memory do his kindling reverence wrong

That heard the soft Ionian flute, whose tone

Changed with the silver trumpet of her song?

No sweeter airs from woman’s lips were blown.

Ah, in the silence she has left behind

How many a sorrowing voice of life is still!

Songless she left the land that cannot find

Song for its heroes; and the Roman hill,

Once free, shall for her ghost the laurel wind.

The tablet tells you, “Here she wrote and died,”

And grateful Florence bids the record stand:

Here bend Italian love and English pride

Above her grave,—and one remoter land,

Free as her prayers could make it, at their side.

I will not doubt the vision: yonder see

The moving clouds that speak of freedom won!

And life, new-lighted, with a lark-like glee

Through Casa Guidi windows hails the sun,

Grown from the rest her spirit gave to me.