Home  »  Poems of Places An Anthology in 31 Volumes  »  Lines Written at the Village of Passignano, on the Lake of Thrasimene

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

Thrasimene, the Lake

Lines Written at the Village of Passignano, on the Lake of Thrasimene

By Richard Chenevix Trench (1807–1886)

THE MOUNTAINS stand about the quiet lake,

That not a breath its azure calm may break;

No leaf of these sere olive-trees is stirred,

In the near silence far-off sounds are heard;

The tiny bat is flitting overhead;

The hawthorn doth its richest odors shed

Into the dewy air; and over all,

Veil after veil, the evening shadows fall,

Withdrawing one by one each glimmering height,

The far, and then the nearer, from our sight,—

No sign surviving in this tranquil scene,

That strife and savage tumult here have been.

But if the pilgrim to the latest plain

Of carnage, where the blood like summer rain

Fell but the other day,—if in his mind

He marvels much and oftentimes to find

With what success has Nature each sad trace

Of man’s red footmarks labored to efface,—

What wonder, if this spot we tread appears

Guiltless of strife, when now two thousand years

Of daily reparation have gone by,

Since it resumed its own tranquillity?

This calm has nothing strange, yet not the less

This holy evening’s solemn quietness,

The perfect beauty of this windless lake,

This stillness which no harsher murmurs break

Than the frogs croaking from the distant sedge,

These vineyards dressed unto the water’s edge,

This hind that homeward driving the slow steer

Tells how man’s daily work goes forward here,

Have each a power upon me while I drink

The influence of the placid time, and think

How gladly that sweet Mother once again

Resumes her sceptre and benignant reign,

But for a few short instants scared away

By the mad game, the cruel, impious fray

Of her distempered children,—how comes back,

And leads them in the customary track

Of blessing once again; to order brings

Anew the dislocated frame of things,

And covers up, and out of sight conceals

What they have wrought of ill, or gently heals.