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



By Alfred Austin (1835–1913)

(From The Human Tragedy)

THERE is a little city in the South,

A silent little city by the sea,

Where a stilled Alpine torrent finds its mouth,

And billowy mountains subside smilingly.

It knows nor weeping skies nor dewless drouth,

No seasons, save when April’s glancing glee

Slow steadies unto Summer’s still-poised wing,

Or mimic Winter lifts the mask from Spring.

Once on a time it was a famous city,

Home of urbane humanities and strife,

When men were knightly still, and women witty,

And court and camp with revelry were rife.

Now is it hushed as long-forgotten ditty,

Secluded almshouse of a bankrupt life,

Refuge for him who, after days of riot,

Seeketh the safe monotony of quiet.

No traveller’s busy footstep cometh there,

No pallid form, more painlessly to die;

No gainful barter thither doth repair;

Even the boatman’s oar and net pass by.

No clattering wheel and whip offend the air;

Its streets but lead to mountain, sea, and sky,

And, when gaunt Winter stalks our shivering isle,

Bask, backed by hills, in ocean’s rippling smile.