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

Rome, Churches of

Sant’ Onofrio

By Thomas D’Arcy McGee (1825–1868)

  • Tasso’s tomb is in one of the chapels of Sant’ Onofrio, on the Janiculum, where there is a modern monument by Falcrio. The writing-desk, crucifix, inkstand, and some autographs of the poet, are in the adjoining convent, where he died (A.D. 1595); and the tree called Tasso’s Oak is shown in the garden.

  • THE TEPID air bespeaks repose,

    The noonday city sleeps;

    No shadow from the cypress groves

    Athwart the Tiber creeps.

    This seems the very land of rest

    To wondering wanderers from the West,

    Who walk as if in dreams;

    English Ambition’s onward cry,

    To all beneath this opiate sky

    Yet untranslated seems.

    Here is the goal; here ended all

    His tragedy of life!

    The honors, banishment, recall,

    The love, the hate, the strife!

    A weary man, the poet came

    To light a funeral-torch’s flame

    At yonder chancel light;

    When here he summed up all his days,

    Heedless of human blame or praise,

    And turned him to the Night!

    O holy Jerome! at thy shrine,

    Who could hope better meed,

    Than he who sang the song divine

    Of crusade and of creed!

    Who loved upon Jerusalem,

    As thou didst when at Bethlehem,

    The Master’s steps to trace!

    Who burned to tread the very sod

    Imprinted by the feet of God,

    In the first years of grace!

    Wrapt in the shade of Tasso’s Oak,

    I breathe the air of Rome:

    He found his final home

    Where, freed from every patron’s yoke,

    The Alban and the Sabine range

    Down yonder, seeming nothing strange,

    Although first seen by me;

    Firm as those storied highlands stand,

    So, deep-laid in Italian land,

    Shall Tasso’s glory be.

    Calm here, within his altar-grave,

    The restless takes his rest;

    Besculptured, as becomes the brave,

    With nodding casque, and crest,

    And shield, on which we trace the line,

    The key-note of his song divine,

    “Pro Fide!” Tasso lies.

    So may we find our legend writ,

    What time the Crucified shall sit

    For judgment, in the skies!