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

Appendix: Posilipo


By Nicholas Michell (1807–1880)

(From Ruins of Many Lands)

MUSING and slow, we pass Averno’s tide,

Hell’s entrance feigned, where phantoms wail and glide;

But fairer scenes are near,—we climb yon hill,

Where Taste at Nature’s charms might drink her fill,—

Posilipo, o’erlooking shore and sea,

And Love’s own city, bright Parthenope.

Glorious that landscape spreads around, below,

In hues of heaven all earth appears to glow;

Through vales of flowers the wild bee blithely wings,

Mid orange-groves the soft-plumed mavis sings.

Kissing the shores, and stretching far away,

One sheet of sapphire spreads the isle-gemmed bay.

Vines clad the mountains, myrtles fringe the wave,

And harp-like music whispers from each cave:

The very winds seem born of joy and love,

And earth laughs up to laughing skies above.

O lovely land! when banished angels flew

From Eden’s bowers, and bade our world adieu,

The heavenly strangers dropped their parting tear,

And stamped their smiles, and left their footprints here!

Yet ’t is not Nature’s beauties, glowing round,

Lend the chief charm to this enchanted ground,

But brilliant memories of long-vanished years,

The priceless lore which hallows and endears.

Each ruin tells a tale; rock, grove, and stream,

The classic haunt of some bright spirit seem.

What rises near?—a fabric lone and gray,

That boasts no pillars rich, no friezes gay;

An ilex bends above its moss-clad walls,

In long festoons the dark green ivy falls,

And pale-eyed flowers, like watching vestals, bloom,—

Kneel, stranger, kneel! that cell is Virgil’s tomb!

Ay, doubt not, though thou find’st nor urn nor bust,

That slumbers there the immortal poet’s dust;

Gaze on his laurelled brow with Fancy’s eye,

And hear his harp amid the ruins sigh.