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


Lastra a Signa

By Sarah D. Clarke

SHE is old! she is old, our Lastra!

Old with thousands of years;

Yet her bold, brave gates stand up to-day

As in years agone, when her Tuscan spears

From the sunny hill-top drove at bay

Foe after foe, in reddening lines,

Over the crest of the Apennines.

She is old! she is old, our Lastra!

Her noble walls are rent;

Yet they stand to-day on the great highway,

With the ruined battlement,

And the beacon tower, dark and gray:

She sees, like a dream, the Arno flow

By beautiful Florence, far below.

She is old! she is old, our Lastra!

Yet Ferruchio held her dear;

He gave her his heart, his sword, his life,

Yet she wasted never a tear,

With head unbowed in the bitter strife,

As on, through her gateway, the hosts of France

Passed at the traitor Baldini’s glance.

They stormed at her walls, our Lastra!

They pierced her with fire and steel;

Orange came down from the hills of Spain,—

He trampled her turf with his iron heel,

Pillaged, and slew to her hurt and pain,

Till she fought no more; her banners were rent,

And the warder gone from her battlement.

But they left her the gray old mountains,

And the green of her olive-fields;

The blessed cross and the holy shrine,

And her marvellous carven shields,

Painted in colors rare and fine,

On the beautiful gateway, her crown and pride,

Dear to the hearts, where Amalfi died.

On the stones of her mighty watch-tower

Women spin in the sun;

Pilgrims tread on her broad highway;

Her days of battle are done.

Soft breezes blow o’er the scented hay,

And scarlet poppies bloom large and sweet,

By the blowing barley and fields of wheat.

She is older, our pride, our Lastra,

Than the tombs of Etruscan kings;

She is wise with the wisdom of sages,—

For her living she smiles and sings,

As she looks to the coming ages;

And her dead, they whisper, “Waste no tear,

We only sleep,—we are waiting here!”