Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Greece and Turkey in Europe: Vol. XIX. 1876–79.

Greece: Delphi (Castri)


By Aubrey Thomas de Vere (1814–1902)

(From Lines Written under Delphi)

I HAVE seen Delphi: I no more shall see it:

I go contented, having seen it once;

Yet here awhile remain, prisoner well-pleased

Of reboant winds. Within this mountain cove

Their sound alone finds entrance. Lightly the waves,

Rolled from the outer to the inner bay,

Dance in blue silver o’er the silver sands;

While, like a chain-bound antelope by some child

Mocked oft with tempting hand and fruit upheld,

Our quick caique vaults up among the reeds,

The ripples that plunge past it upward sending

O’er the gray margin matted with sea-pink

Ripplings of light. The moon is veiled; a mile

Below the mountain’s eastern range it hangs:

Yon gleam is but its reflex, from white clouds

Scattered along Parnassian peaks of snow.

I see but waves and snows. Memory alone

Fruition hath of what this morn was mine:

O’er many a beauteous scene at once she broods,

And feeds on joys without confusion blent

Like mingling sounds or odors. Now she rests

On that serene expanse (the confluence

Of three long vales) in sweetness upward heaved,

Ample and rich as Juno’s breast what time

The Thunderer’s breath in sleep moves over it:

Bathes in those runnels now, that raced in light

This morn as at some festival of streams,

Through arbutus and ilex, wafting each

Upon its glassy track a several breeze,

Each with its tale of joy or playful sadness.

Fair nymphs, by great Apollo’s fall untouched!

Sing, sing forever! When did golden Phœbus

Look sad one moment for a fair nymph’s fall?

A still, black glen; below, a stream-like copse

Of hoary olives; rocks like walls beside,

Never by Centaur trod, though these fresh gales

Give man the Centaur’s strength. Again I mount,

From cliff to cliff, from height to height ascend;

Glitters Castalia’s Fount; I see, I touch it!

That rift once more I reach, the oracular seat,

Whose arching rocks half meet in air suspense;

’Twixt them is one blue streak of heaven; hard by

Dim temples hollowed in the stone, for rites

Mysterious shaped, or mansions of the dead:

Released, I turn, and see, far, far below,

A vale so rich in floral garniture,

And perfume from the orange and the sea,

So girt with white peaks flashing from sky chasms,

So lighted with the vast blue dome of heaven,

So lulled with music from the winds and waves,

The guest of Phœbus claps his hands and shouts,

“There is but one such spot; from heaven Apollo

Beheld; and chose it for his earthly shrine!”