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


Sunrise in Venice

By Joaquin Miller (1837–1913)

NIGHT seems troubled and scarce asleep;

Her brows are gathered in broken rest;

Sullen old lion of grand St. Mark

Lordeth and lifteth his front from the dark,

And a star in the east starts up from the deep,

White as my lilies that grow in the west;

And the day leaps up with a star on his breast.

Hist! men are passing hurriedly.

I see the yellow wide wings of a bark

Sail silently over my morning-star.

I see men move in the moving dark,

Tall and silent as columns are,—

Great sinewy men that are good to see,

With hair pushed back and with open breasts;

Barefooted fishermen seeking their boats,

Brown as walnuts and hairy as goats,—

Brave old water-dogs, wed to the sea,

First to their labors and last to their rests.

Ships are moving! I hear a horn;

A silver trumpet it sounds to me,

Deep-voiced and musical, far a-sea

Answers back, and again it calls.

’T is the sentinel-boats that watch the town

All night, as mounting her watery walls,

And watching for pirate or smuggler. Down

Over the sea, and reaching away,

And against the east, a soft light falls,—

Silvery soft as the mist of morn,

And I catch a breath like the breath of day.

The east is blooming! Yea, a rose,

Vast as the heavens, soft as a kiss,

Sweet as the presence of woman is,

Rises and reaches and widens and grows

Right out of the sea, as a blooming tree;

Richer and richer, so higher and higher,

Deeper and deeper it takes its hue;

Brighter and brighter it reaches through

The space of heaven and the place of stars,

Till all is as rich as a rose can be,

And my rose-leaves fall into billows of fire.

Then beams reach upward as arms from a sea;

Then lances and arrows are aimed at me.

Then lances and spangles and spars and bars

Are broken and shivered and strewn on the sea;

And around and about me tower and spire

Start from the billows like tongues of fire.