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


Lines Written near Shelley’s House

By Aubrey Thomas de Vere (1814–1902)

AND here he paced! These glimmering pathways strewn

With faded leaves his light, swift footsteps crushed;

The odor of yon pine was o’er him blown:

Music went by him in each wind that brushed

Those yielding stems of ilex! Here, alone,

He walked at noon, or silent stood and hushed

When the ground-ivy flashed the moonlight sheen

Back from the forest carpet always green.

Poised as on air the lithe elastic bower

Now bends, resilient now against the wind

Recoils, like Dryads that one moment cower

And rise the next with loose locks unconfined.

Through the dim roof like gems the sunbeams shower;

Old cypress-trunks the aspiring bay-trees bind,

And soon will have them wholly underneath:

Types eminent of glory conquering death.

Far down upon the shelves and sands below

The respirations of a southern sea

Beat with susurrent cadence, soft and slow:

Round the gray cave’s fantastic imagery,

In undulation eddying to and fro,

The purple waves swell up or backward flee;

While, dewed at each rebound with gentlest shock,

The myrtle leans her green breast on the rock.

And here he stood; upon his face that light,

Streamed from some furthest realm of luminous thought,

Which clothed his fragile beauty with the might

Of suns forever rising! Here he caught

Visions divine. He saw in fiery flight

“The hound of Heaven,” with heavenly vengeance fraught,

“Run down the slanted sunlight of the morn”—

Prometheus frown on Jove with scorn for scorn.

He saw white Arethusa, leap on leap,

Plunge from the Acroceraunian ledges bare

With all her torrent streams, while from the steep

Alpheus bounded on her unaware:

Hellas he saw, a giant fresh from sleep,

Break from the night of bondage and despair.

Who but had sung as there he stood and smiled,

“Justice and truth have found their winged child!”

Through cloud and wave and star his insight keen

Shone clear, and traced a god in each disguise,

Protean, boundless. Like the buskined scene

All nature rapt him into ecstasies:

In him, alas! had reverence equal been

With admiration, those resplendent eyes

Had wandered not through all her range sublime

To miss the one great marvel of all time.

The winds sang loud; from this Elysian nest

He rose, and trod yon spine of mountains bleak,

While stormy suns descending in the west

Stained as with blood yon promontory’s beak.

That hour, responsive to his soul’s unrest,

Carrara’s marble summits, peak to peak,

Sent forth their thunders like the battle-cry

Of nations arming for the victory.