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



By John Milton (1608–1674)

HE brought our Saviour to the western side

Of that high mountain, whence he might behold

Another plain, long, but in breadth not wide,

Washed by the southern sea; and, on the north,

To equal length backed with a ridge of hills,

That screened the fruits of the earth, and seats of men,

From cold Septentrion blasts; thence in the midst

Divided by a river, of whose banks

On each side an imperial city stood,

With towers and temples proudly elevate

On seven small hills, with palaces adorned,

Porches, and theatres, baths, aqueducts,

Statues, and trophies, and triumphal arcs,

Gardens, and groves, presented to his eyes,

Above the height of mountains interposed:

(By what strange parallax, or optic skill

Of vision, multiplied through air, or glass

Of telescope, were curious to inquire,)

And now the Tempter thus his silence broke:—

“The city, which thou seest, no other deem

Than great and glorious Rome, queen of the earth,

So far renowned, and with the spoils enriched

Of nations: there the Capitol thou seest,

Above the rest lifting his stately head

On the Tarpeian rock, her citadel

Impregnable; and there Mount Palatine,

The imperial palace, compass huge, and high

The structure, skill of noblest architects,

With gilded battlements conspicuous far,

Turrets, and terraces, and glittering spires:

Many a fair edifice besides, more like

Houses of gods, (so well I have disposed

My aery microscope,) thou mayst behold,

Outside and inside both, pillars and roofs,

Carved work, the hand of famed artificers,

In cedar, marble, ivory, or gold.

Thence to the gates cast round thine eye, and see

What conflux issuing forth, or entering in;

Prætors, proconsuls to their provinces

Hasting, or on return, in robes of state,

Lictors and rods, the ensigns of their power,

Legions and cohorts, turms of horse and wings:

Or embassies from regions far remote,

In various habits, on the Appian road,

Or on the Emilian: some from farthest south,

Syene, and where the shadow both way falls,

Meroe, Nilotick isle; and, more to west,

The realm of Bocchus to the Black-moor sea;

From the Asian kings, and Parthian among these;

From India and the golden Chersonese,

And utmost Indian isle Taprobane,

Dusk faces with white silken turbans wreathed;

From Gallia, Gades, and the British west;

Germans, and Scythians, and Sarmatians, north

Beyond Danubius to the Taurick pool.

All nations now to Rome obedience pay;

To Rome’s great emperor, whose wide domain,

In ample territory, wealth, and power,

Civility of manners, arts, and arms,

And long renown, thou justly mayst prefer

Before the Parthian.”