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



By John Edmund Reade (1800–1870)

(From Italy)

HARK! from dark Nemi’s plantain-woods, where twining

The tendrilled vine the branches clasps along,

Where glows through olives the bright cactus shining,

Echo the sounds of laughter and of song!

Lo, trooping forth, wild-flowers their hair among,

Albano’s dark-browed daughters! from their eyes

Joy flashing lightning, a Bacchante throng:

Forms such as danced beneath Idalian skies,

Or trod the flowery fields of golden Arcadies.

It is Gensano’s flower-fête! the streets shine

Strewn o’er with irises of living blue,

Galaxied thick with star-eyed jessamine,

And the rose shedding its rich lustre through:

We tread on living tapestry whose hue

Mocks the faint rainbow, an Hesperian shore

Its glory darkening on the aching view:

Yet hath Art wrought on that mosaic floor

Religion’s pictured forms that call ye to adore;

There glows Madonna with her Son, o’erhung

Their brows with lilies: hark! song fills the air,

Winged infants lead the choir with censers swung:

Shedding flower-odors from their raven hair,

With white veils floating from their shoulders bare,

Frascati’s daughters elevate above

The sacred Host: Religion watches there,

Her spirit still with olden fable wove,

Wedding great Nature thus, bride-like, with human love.