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


Sir Walter Scott at Pompeii

By Letitia Elizabeth Landon (1802–1838)

  • (From Black Linn of Linklater)
  • “A fête was given at Pompeii in honor of Scott. All the guests took some character from the Waverley novels. The deserted city echoed with music; lamps flung their light over walls so long unconscious of festivity. The city of the dead suited well the festival of the dying. Sir Walter was present, but unconscious; he sat wan, exhausted, and motionless,—‘the centre of the glittering ring’ formed by his own genius.”

    I SEE the ancient master pale and worn,

    Though on him shines the lovely southern heaven,

    And Naples greets him with festivity.

    The dying by the dead: for his great sake

    They have laid bare the city of the lost;

    His own creations fill the silent streets;

    The Roman pavement rings with golden spurs,

    The Highland plaid shades dark Italian eyes,

    And the young king himself is Ivanhoe.

    But there the old man sits,—majestic, wan,

    Himself a mighty vision of the past;

    The glorious mind has bowed beneath its toil;

    He does not hear his name on foreign lips

    That thank him for a thousand happy hours;

    He does not see the glittering groups that press

    In wonder and in homage to his side;

    Death is beside his triumph.