Home  »  Poems of Places An Anthology in 31 Volumes  »  Lines on Leaving Italy

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


Lines on Leaving Italy

By Adam Gottlob Oehlenschläger (1779–1850)

Anonymous translation

ONCE more among the old gigantic hills

With vapors clouded o’er;

The vales of Lombardy grow dim behind,

The rocks ascend before.

They beckon me, the giants, from afar,

They wing my footsteps on;

Their helms of ice, their plumage of the pine,

Their cuirasses of stone.

My heart beats high, my breath comes freer forth,—

Why should my heart be sore?

I hear the eagle and the vulture’s cry,

The nightingale’s no more.

Where is the laurel, where the myrtle’s blossom?

Bleak is the path around:

Where from the thicket comes the ringdove’s cooing?

Hoarse is the torrent’s sound.

Yet should I grieve, when from my loaded bosom

A weight appears to flow?

Methinks the Muses come to call me home

From yonder rocks of snow.

I know not how, but in yon land of roses

My heart was heavy still,

I startled at the warbling nightingale,

The zephyr on the hill.

They said the stars shone with a softer gleam,—

It seemed not so to me;

In vain a scene of beauty beamed around,

My thoughts were o’er the sea.