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



By Florence Smith (1845–1871)

Written between Venice and Milan, after Seeing Lake Garda and the Distant Alps

VENICE lay dreaming in the morning light,

Her fairy towers reflected in the wave;

As the dim islands faded from our sight,

One backward look we gave,—

Then on! where duty calls, and smiling home

Her arms spreads forth the errant ones to greet!

Dear faces rise beyond the ocean foam,

And rest and peace are sweet.

But I must leave thee, Italy! To-day

Thou didst put on thy brightest smiles for me,—

Mountain, and lake, and vine-clad valley lay

Wrapped in an azure sea;

While, floating in the magic atmosphere,

Like a mirage I saw thy beauty rise,

And loveliest as the parting hour drew near,

Thou didst enchant mine eyes!

Thus in my heart I bear thee, stamped in light,

Thine image leaves me not, where’er I go,—

The shimmering lake, the mountains, height o’er height

Heaven-crowned with radiant snow.

Those Alps! whose secrets I shall never see,

In whose blue depths such hidden glories lie,—

Like the calm summits of futurity,

They rise against the sky!

On the horizon of my thought they stand,—

A barrier, yet an inspiration, too!

Beyond those heights there lies a lovelier land

Than poet ever drew.

Beyond,—ah yes! I linger on the word,—

Whate’er of earthly happiness we miss,

Still is the yearning soul more deeply stirred

By hopes of future bliss!

I seek not to attain, I but aspire!

I yearn for joy no fleeting moment gives,—

The soul grows great through infinite desire,

In what it longs for, lives!