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



By Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837–1909)

INSIDE this northern summer’s fold

The fields are full of naked gold,

Broadcast from heaven on lands it loves;

The green veiled air is full of doves;

Soft leaves that sift the sunbeams let

Light on the small warm grasses wet,

Fall in short broken kisses sweet,

And break again like waves that beat

Round the sun’s feet.

But I, for all this English mirth

Of golden-shod and dancing days,

And the old green-girt, sweet-hearted earth,

Desire what here no spell can raise.

Far hence, with holier heavens above,

The lovely city of my love

Bathes deep in the sun-satiate air

That flows round no fair thing more fair

Her beauty bare.

There the utter sky is holier, there

More pure the intense white height of air,

More clear men’s eyes that mine would meet,

And the sweet springs of things more sweet.

There for this one warm note of doves

A clamor of a thousand loves

Storms the night’s ear, the day’s assails,

From the tempestuous nightingales,

And fills, and fails.

O gracious city well-beloved,

Italian, and a maiden crowned,

Siena, my feet are no more moved

Toward thy strange-shapen mountain-bound:

But my heart in me turns and moves,

O lady loveliest of my loves,

Toward thee, to lie before thy feet

And gaze from thy fair fountain-seat

Up the sheer street;

And the house midway hanging see

That saw Saint Catherine bodily,

Felt on its floors her sweet feet move,

And the live light of fiery love

Burn from her beautiful, strange face,

As in the sanguine sacred place

Where in pure hands she took the head

Severed, and with pure lips still red

Kissed the lips dead.


For the outer land is sad, and wears

A raiment of a flaming fire;

And the fierce, fruitless mountain stairs

Climb, yet seem wroth and loth to aspire,

Climb, and break, and are broken down,

And through their clefts and crests the town

Looks west and sees the dead sun lie

In sanguine death that stains the sky

With angry dye.

And from the war-worn wastes without

In twilight, in the time of doubt,

One sound comes of one whisper, where,

Moved with low motions of slow air,

The great trees nigh the castle swing

In the sad colored evening;

“Ricorditi di me, che son

La Pia,”—that small sweet word alone

Is not yet gone.

“Ricorditi di me,”—the sound

Sole out of deep dumb days remote

Across the fiery and fatal ground

Comes tender as a hurt bird’s note

To where, a ghost with empty hands,

A woe-worn ghost, her palace stands

In the mid city, where the strong

Bells turn the sunset air to song,

And the towers throng.

With other face, with speech the same,

A mightier maiden’s likeness came

Late among mourning men that slept,

A sacred ghost that went and wept,

White as the passion-wounded Lamb,

Saying, “Ah, remember me, that am

Italia.” (From deep sea to sea

Earth heard, earth knew her, that this was she.)