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



By Joseph Addison (1672–1719)

(From A Letter from Italy)

IMMORTAL glories in my mind revive,

And in my soul a thousand passions strive,

When Rome’s exalted beauties I descry

Magnificent in piles of ruin lie.

An amphitheatre’s amazing height

Here fills my eye with terror and delight,

That on its public shows unpeopled Rome,

And held uncrowded nations in its womb:

Here pillars rough with sculpture pierce the skies:

And here the proud triumphal arches rise,

Where the old Romans deathless acts displayed,

Their base degenerate progeny upbraid:

Whole rivers here forsake the fields below,

And wondering at their height through airy channels flow.

Still to new scenes my wandering Muse retires,

And the dumb show of breathing rocks admires;

Where the smooth chisel all its force has shown,

And softened into flesh the rugged stone.

In solemn silence, a majestic band,

Heroes and gods and Roman consuls stand,

Stern tyrants, whom their cruelties renown,

And emperors in Parian marble frown;

While the bright dames, to whom they humbly sued,

Still show the charms that their proud hearts subdued.

Fain would I Raphael’s godlike art rehearse,

And show the immortal labors in my verse,

Where from the mingled strength of shade and light

A new creation rises to my sight,

Such heavenly figures from his pencil flow,

So warm with life his blended colors glow.

From theme to theme with secret pleasure tost,

Amidst the soft variety I ’m lost:

Here pleasing airs my ravished soul confound

With circling notes and labyrinths of sound;

Here domes and temples rise in distant views,

And opening palaces invite my muse.