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


Petrarch’s Tomb

By Lord Byron (1788–1824)

(From Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage)

THERE is a tomb in Arqua;—reared in air,

Pillared in their sarcophagus, repose

The bones of Laura’s lover; here repair

Many familiar with his well-sung woes,

The pilgrims of his genius. He arose

To raise a language, and his land reclaim

From the dull yoke of her barbaric foes;

Watering the tree which bears his lady’s name

With his melodious tears, he gave himself to fame.

They keep his dust in Arqua, where he died;

The mountain-village where his latter days

Went down the vale of years; and ’t is their pride,—

An honest pride,—and let it be their praise,

To offer to the passing stranger’s gaze

His mansion and his sepulchre; both plain

And venerably simple, such as raise

A feeling more accordant with his strain

Than if a pyramid formed his monumental fame.

And the soft hamlet where he dwelt

Is one of that complexion which seems made

For those who their mortality have felt,

And sought a refuge from their hopes decayed

In the deep umbrage of a green hill’s shade,

Which shows a distant prospect far away

Of busy cities, now in vain displayed,

For they can lure no further; and the ray

Of a bright sun can make sufficient holiday,

Developing the mountains, leaves, and flowers,

And shining in the brawling brook, whereby,

Clear as its current, glide the sauntering hours

With a calm languor, which, though to the eye

Idlesse it seem, hath its morality.

If from society we learn to live,

’T is solitude should teach us how to die;

It hath no flatterers; vanity can give

No hollow aid; alone man with his God must strive.