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


Sicilian Arethusa

By Horace Smith (1779–1849)

SICILIAN Arethusa! thou, whose arms

Of azure round the Thymbrian meadows wind,

Still are thy margins lined

With the same flowers Proserpina was weaving

In Enna’s field, beside Pergusa’s lake,

When swarthy Dis, upheaving,

Saw her, and, stung to madness by her charms,

Down snatched her, shrieking, to his Stygian couch.

Thy waves, Sicilian Arethusa, flow

In cadence to the shepherd’s flageolet

As tunefully as when they wont to crouch

Beneath the banks to catch the pipings low

Of old Theocritus, and hear him trill

Bucolic songs, and Amoebæan lays.

And still, Sicilian Arethusa, still,

Though Ætna dry thee up, or frosts enchain,

Thy music shall be heard, for poets high

Have dipped their wreaths in thee, and by their praise

Made thee immortal as themselves. Thy flowers,

Transplanted, an eternal bloom retain,

Rooted in words that cannot fade or die.

Thy liquid gush and guggling melody

Have left undoing echoes in the bowers

Of tuneful poesy. Thy very name,

Sicilian Arethusa, had been drowned

In deep oblivion, but that the buoyant breath

Of bards uplifted it, and bade it swim

Adown the eternal lapse, assured of fame,

Till all things shall be swallowed up in death.

Where, Immortality, where canst thou found

Thy throne unperishing, but in the hymn

Of the true bard, whose breath encrusts his theme

Like to a petrifaction, which the stream

Of time will only make more durable?