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


Sea-coast of Italy

By Alessandro Tassoni (1565–1635)

Translated by James Atkinson

TO instigate Taranto’s prince, to arm

His valiant people for the mighty shock,

And save his brother from impending harm,

Imprisoned by the foe, disastrous stroke!

Forth sailed the vessel, breathing round a charm,

And keeping well at sea from sand or rock;

The goddess sat, in gold and azure veiled,

Upon the poop, from man and heaven concealed.

Capraia and Gorgona having past,

She turns towards the left the glittering prow;

Leghorn, then Elba, famous for its vast

Ferruginous mines; and low Faleria now,

And Piombino are behind her cast;

Countries which still to Ocean’s monarch bow;

Where still the eagle, with triumphant wings,

O’er mountain, plain, and sea his shadow flings.


In troops the dolphins joyfully escort

The sparkling bark upon its easy way;

Smiling the sea-nymphs lightly dance and sport

On every side, unceasing in their play;

She sees the Umbroné issuing from its port,

And Giglio to the southward, and the spray

Washing the dark and ruinous sides of steep

Mount Argentarius, mid the Tuscan deep.

Here to the right before the wind she steers,

And on the left the port of Hercules

Recedes; Civita Vecchia now appears,

And all the glittering coast the goddess sees;

Then Porto di Trajano, worn by years,

In miserable ruins, dome and frieze;

Time whelms the tower, dissolves the marble bust,

The noblest works become a heap of dust.

The Tiber was not distant, when arose

From sleep the South-wind, which in Lybia reigns,

And, rushing to the shore, indignant blows

Across the sea, and every check disdains;

He sees the silver sails and inward glows

With daring thoughts,—above the watery plains

He flies, to ask the lovely vessel’s freight,

And finds the Queen of Beauty there in state.


The low flat coast of Ostia had receded,

And Anzio risen to view, when Beauty’s Queen

The rumor heard, and saw how gust succeeded

O’erwhelming gust, and blackened all the scene;

She saw the nymphs, how fleetly they proceeded

From the vexed, angry sea, with fearful mien;

Disdainful then she threw her veil aside,

And showed herself to heaven in all her beauty’s pride.


With crimson gowns, and turbans on the head,

Nettun’s fair damsels on the beach are seen;

She passes close Astura, where betrayed

In his disastrous flight was Corradin.

God, for that deed, a punishment has laid

Upon the land, which from that time has been

Desert and waste; now Mount Circell appears,

His feet amidst the sea, his head to heaven he rears.

Onward she goes, and rapid leaves behind

Ponzia and Palmarola, where of yore

By tyrant Rome the illustrious were confined,

Secret and lonely. Scattered on the shore

Gleam various towers; before the buxom wind

Swift flies the vessel, now is seen no more

Dim Terracena; now remote is found

Upon the left Gäeta,—place renowned.

Gäeta now is passed, and sailing on

She gaineth Procida, steering near its coast;

And then Puzzolo, long familiar known

For its sulphureous streets; that too is lost;

Then cometh Nisida, with an emerald zone,

Whence is beheld bright Naples and its boast,

The glorious bay; and seemingly with glee

The Queen of Ocean greets the Goddess of the Sea.