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

Naples, the Bay


By Thomas Buchanan Read (1822–1872)

MY soul to-day

Is far away,

Sailing the Vesuvian Bay;

My wingéd boat,

A bird afloat,

Swims round the purple peaks remote:—

Round purple peaks

It sails, and seeks

Blue inlets and their crystal creeks,

Where high rocks throw,

Through deeps below,

A duplicated golden glow.

Far, vague, and dim

The mountains swim;

While on Vesuvius’ misty brim,

With outstretched hands,

The gray smoke stands

O’erlooking the volcanic lands.

Here Ischia smiles

O’er liquid miles;

And yonder, bluest of the isles,

Calm Capri waits,

Her sapphire gates

Beguiling to her bright estates.

I heed not, if

My rippling skiff

Float swift or slow from cliff to cliff;—

With dreamful eyes

My spirit lies

Under the walls of Paradise.

Under the walls

Where swells and falls

The Bay’s deep breast at intervals,

At peace I lie,

Blown softly by,

A cloud upon this liquid sky.

The day, so mild,

Is Heaven’s own child,

With Earth and Ocean reconciled;—

The airs I feel

Around me steal

Are murmuring to the murmuring keel.

Over the rail

My hand I trail

Within the shadow of the sail;

A joy intense,

The cooling sense

Glides down my drowsy indolence.

With dreamful eyes

My spirit lies

Where Summer sings and never dies,—

O’erveiled with vines,

She glows and shines

Among her future oil and wines.

Her children, hid

The cliffs amid,

Are gambolling with the gambolling kid;

Or down the walls,

With tipsy calls,

Laugh on the rocks like waterfalls.

The fisher’s child,

With tresses wild,

Unto the smooth, bright sand beguiled,

With glowing lips

Sings as she skips,

Or gazes at the far-off ships.

Yon deep bark goes

Where traffic blows,

From lands of sun to lands of snows;—

This happier one,

Its course is run

From lands of snow to lands of sun.

O happy ship,

To rise and dip,

With the blue crystal at your lip!

O happy crew,

My heart with you

Sails, and sails, and sings anew!

No more, no more

The worldly shore

Upbraids me with its loud uproar!

With dreamful eyes

My spirit lies

Under the walls of Paradise!

In lofty lines,

Mid palms and pines,

And olives, aloes, elms, and vines,

Sorrento swings

On sunset wings,

Where Tasso’s spirit soars and sings.