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


Rome Entered

By Thomas Buchanan Read (1822–1872)

THE LOUD vettura rings along the way,

White as the road with dust. The purple day

O’er Monte Mario dies from off the dome,

And, lo! the first star leads us into Rome.

O glorious city! Through the deepening shade

A thousand heroes, like the gods arrayed,

And bards, with laurel rustling on their hair,

Walk proudly, and speak grandly, till the air

Is full of solemn majesty, and night

Is half-way robbed by temples marble white.

Yon tramping steeds and yonder glittering wheel

Chariot a Cæsar, while the commonweal

Greets him with pæans, and we proudly march

On toward the Forum. The triumphal arch,

Burning with banners, and the murmuring street,

Deep strewn with roses, till the air is sweet

With floating odors. How the heralds blow

Their wild delirious trumpets, notes that go

Like swift flames soaring with the fiery tune,

Bursting from clarions blazing in the noon!

Whence come we? from what conquest? with what spoil?

Whence are these captives, bleeding as they toil

Under our load of trophies? Whips, and groans,

And blood, that shames the rose leaves on the stones

For depth of crimson! And the dew of tears

Blistering the noonday dust! O’ercome with years

And toil and grief, there drops the way-worn slave

Under the horses; and the conquering wave,

Above his carcass, pours its glorious flood

Down through the Forum in a path of blood,

Roaring with triumph! Do I wake or sleep?

Thank Heaven, ’t was but a dream; a ruined heap

The house of Cæsar and of Nero lies!

And o’er the golden wall the owlet nightly cries.