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



By Joseph Addison (1672–1719)

To Lord Halifax

WHILE you, my Lord, the rural shades admire,

And from Britannia’s public posts retire,

Nor longer, her ungrateful sons to please,

For their advantage sacrifice your ease,

Me into foreign realms my fate conveys,

Through nations fruitful of immortal lays,

Where the soft season and inviting clime

Conspire to trouble your repose with rhyme.

For wheresoe’er I turn my ravished eyes,

Gay gilded scenes and shining prospects rise,

Poetic fields encompass me around,

And still I seem to tread on classic ground;

For here the Muse so oft her harp has strung,

That not a mountain rears its head unsung,

Renowned in verse each shady thicket grows,

And every stream in heavenly numbers flows.

How am I pleased to search the hills and woods

For rising springs and celebrated floods!

To view the Nar, tumultuous in his course,

And trace the smooth Clitumnus to his source,

To see the Mincio draw his watery store

Through the long windings of a fruitful shore,

And hoary Albula’s infected tide

O’er the warm bed of smoking sulphur glide.

Fired with a thousand raptures, I survey

Eridamus through flowery meadows stray,

The king of floods! that, rolling o’er the plains,

The towering Alps of half their moisture drains,

And, proudly swoln with a whole winter’s snows,

Distributes wealth and plenty where he flows.

Sometimes, misguided by the tuneful throng,

I look for streams immortalized in song,

That lost in silence and oblivion lie,

(Dumb are their fountains and their channels dry),

Yet run forever by the Muse’s skill,

And in the smooth description murmur still.

Sometimes to gentle Tiber I retire,

And the famed river’s empty shores admire,

That destitute of strength derives its course

From thrifty urns and an unfruitful source;

Yet sung so often in poetic lays,

With scorn the Danube and the Nile surveys.


See how the golden groves around me smile,

That shun the coast of Britain’s stormy isle,

Or when transplanted and preserved with care,

Curse the cold clime, and starve in northern air.

Here kindly warmth their mounting juice ferments

To nobler tastes and more exalted scents:

Even the rough rocks with tender myrtle bloom,

And trodden weeds send out a rich perfume.

Bear me, some god, to Baia’s gentle seats,

Or cover me in Umbria’s green retreats;

Where western gales eternally reside,

And all the seasons lavish all their pride:

Blossoms and fruits and flowers together rise,

And the whole year in gay confusion lies.