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


Milan Cathedral

By Henry Glassford Bell (1803–1874)

O PEERLESS church of old Milan,

How brightly thou com’st back to me,

With all thy minarets and towers,

And sculptured marbles fair to see!

With all thy airy pinnacles

So white against the cloudless blue;

With all thy richly storied panes,

And mellowed sunlight streaming through.

O lovely church of loved Milan,

Can sadness with thy brightness blend?

Lo! moving down that high-arched aisle,

Those mourners for an absent friend.

In every hand a lighted torch,

Above the dead a sable pall,

On every face a look that tells,

She was the best beloved of all.

And low and faint the funeral chant

Subdued the pealing organ’s tone,

As past the altars of her faith

They slow and silent hear her on.

O holy church of proud Milan,

A simpler tomb enshrines for me

The one I loved, who never stood

As now I stand to gaze on thee.

Yet all I see perchance she sees,

And chides not the unbidden tear,

That flows to think how vain the wish,

My life’s companion, thou wert here!

O solemn church of gay Milan,

I owe that pensive hour to thee;

And oft may sacred sadness dwell

Within my soul to temper glee!

Those airy pinnacles that shine

So white against the dark blue sky,

Ascend from tranquil vaults where bones

Which wait the resurrection lie!