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


Lines Written after Visiting the Monasteries at Catania

By John Hookham Frere (1769–1846)

MONKS and holy clerks profest

Lead the sweetest and the best,

The securest life of all.

Look within the convent wall,

See the countenances there

Unannoyed by worldly care,

Unaffected happy faces,

With the features and the traces

Of habitual tranquillity;

With the joyous affability

That bespeaks a heart and head,

Undisturbed at board and bed,

Studious hours and holy rites,

Occupy their days and nights;

Study, learning, and devotion,

Leading onward to promotion;

Here discreet and trusty Friars

Rule the Brotherhood as Priors;

Some are known as casuists,

Theologians, canonists;

One among them, here and there,

Rises to the Prelate’s chair.

Thence again his parts and knowledge,

Fix him in the sacred college,

With the robe of Cardinal;

Last,—the topmost point of all,—

The majestic throne of Pope

Stands within the verge of hope;

That supreme and awful state

Which the noble and the great

With devout obeisance greet,

Humbly falling at his feet.